LABELLE and CLEWISTON, Florida – AirGlades Airport, a general aviation reliever airport, is located 7 miles west of Clewiston, Florida, and enjoys a strategic location along US Highway 27 and Florida State Road 80. Since it ceased functioning as a military air base during World War II, AirGlades has not been a significant contributor to job creation or economic development, but the Hendry County Board of County Commissioners (HCBOCC) and the Hendry County Economic Development Council (HCEDC) are looking to change that.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has officially accepted the preliminary application for Hendry County, Florida’s AirGlades Airport to participate in the Airport Privatization Pilot Program (APPP). Hendry County submitted its preliminary application August 31, 2010. A Hendry County Delegation visited FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, Monday, October 18, 2010, where they received formal notification of FAA’s acceptance of Hendry County’s preliminary application. Hendry County will now begin preparing the final application for approval by the FAA.
This puts AirGlades in a position to become a new economic and capacity contributor to the nation’s aviation system. AirGlades Airport now joins Chicago’s Midway Airport, Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, Puerto Rico’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, and Briscoe Field in Gwinnett County, Georgia in the FAA’s APPP program.
After a year of planning, preparation, and in-depth study, the HCBOCC and HCEDC agree that this congressionally-generated program will be the powerful vehicle with which to deliver economic development and job creation, while enhancing aviation capacity in South Florida. The HCBOCC has determined that AirGlades Airport is a vital component to achieving new economic development opportunities for the county and remains steadfast that private sector development of the airport will unleash its full potential to become an economic engine for the county and the region.
“As I wrap up 8 years serving the citizens of Hendry County, I am proud to know that AirGlades has a tremendous future ahead of it,” said Hendry county commissioner Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy was the commissioner representative to the delegation visiting FAA’s headquarters. “Not only does this enhance aeronautical capacity for the region, but it also represents a significant step forward in the development potential of AirGlades as an economic driver,” said an enthusiastic McCarthy.
Roger Harrison, president and CEO of the HCEDC, emphasized how important teamwork has been during the preliminary application exploration process. “This concept is larger than any single agency or organization, and there is no way we could have gotten where we are today without a tremendous spirit of cooperation. Successful team efforts such as this only foster more success,” said Harrison. Speaking about AirGlades, he added: “It’s hard to deny how perfectly situated this airport is. Central to 8 major seaports, located on US.Highway 27 and State Road 80, and within a short drive of 8 million Floridians, we see this the development of AirGlades as a viable long-term positive contributor to our struggling economy.”
All five authorized program slots are now committed. The FAA will establish a standby list for airports that meet the criteria and have interest in the program, if a slot becomes available.