The Owensboro-Daviess County airport is set to have the most yearly operations since 2012, something officials say is a good thing when it comes to sustainability.
Airport Director Tristan Durbin said Tuesday during a board meeting that an operation is when a pilot or aircraft takes off, lands or does a touch and go.
Through the end of September 2021, OWB has had 20,769 operations. That’s more than the yearly total for each of the last four years, and is on pace for the most in a year since 2012.
Durbin said there are many factors for the rise, including more military training and increased activity from their pilot program, as well as more transients coming in to get maintenance done at MidAmerica Jet.
“Increasing flight operations is a very good thing for the airport, for sustainability of control tower as well as more operations lead to more fuel being purchased,” Durbin said. “All in all, it’s a great asset for the airport to have more operations.”
The pilot program recently added a student, bringing the total to five. They may add one more in early 2022, while one of the current students may graduate within the next month.
The program is only about three years old. Durbin said it’s designed to break even on costs and is currently in good financial standing.
The program is a partnership between OWB and with Cape Air. All the training is done in Owensboro. Once a student reaches 750 hours of training, Cape Air will hire them as a first officer. After another 750 hours of training, the student will have met the requirement by the FAA to be a commercial airline pilot and fly commercially.
The starting salary for the pilot is $100,00, though another major perk is after a 4-year commitment, Cape Air pays off the loan amount that has to be taken out to get the pilot training.
In other business, Durbin said he attended an Allegiant Airport Conference last month. OWB was rated as “no concern” with Allegiant. OWB also ranked as the eighth-cheapest airport out of 107 on cost per enplanement for Allegiant.
“They were very happy with us as a whole,” Durbin said. “It was a great conference, very informational. All things considered, I think it was very, very good for our relationship with them.”