Letter: BR airport upgrades self-funded

I am writing in response to a recent letter to the editor from Paul McKinstry that expressed concern over tax dollars spent on airport renovations. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify how the terminal renovation project is being funded.

BTR operates as an Enterprise Fund and does not receive tax funding from the city-parish of East Baton Rouge. The airport is mandated by federal regulations to be self-sustaining.

Thus, BTR generates its own revenue for operations as opposed to receiving local tax funds.

The airport receives funds from aircraft landing fees, rents, parking, advertising, concessions and leases. In other words, the airport is financed and operated in a manner similar to private business enterprises using self-generated revenue.

With new rules after 9/11 restricting post-checkpoint access to ticketed passengers, bottlenecks occurred in the confined area where the BTR checkpoint, secure side exit and passenger greeting area intersected.

The expansion has alleviated this problem. The original rotunda, which was previously post-security, now serves as an arrival court for guests on the pre-security side. New restrooms and vending have been added in the arrival court to better serve visitors.

Further, the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint was relocated to the new rotunda and can expand to three lanes.

New, larger restrooms on Concourse A support peak passenger demand from larger aircraft flying into BTR, such as the Delta Airbus A-319 and larger CRJ 700 and 900 regional jets.

Additionally, the airport has always had two news/gift shops, one pre-security and one post-security. The “new news stand” was actually relocated from the original rotunda into the expanded rotunda area, operating as our post-security news/gift shop in both instances.

The airport restaurants are actually in the process of being renovated. The upstairs (post-security) restaurant will become a WOW Café & Wingery with fresh food options and specialty coffees. The downstairs restaurant will become P.J.’s Café and will offer specialty coffees and an assortment of new food and beverage options.

The airport’s self-generated revenue is the funds utilized to renovate and provide a modern and efficient terminal for our passengers and their guests. More and more passengers are choosing to wait in the new rotunda area prior to their flight’s boarding, often recharging their electronic devices at one of the power outlets at each seat or simply enjoying the view onto the runways through the glass wall.

The improvements are for the convenience of our customers. Secondly, the airport is the face of the community for first-time visitors and should reflect positively on our region.

Anthony Marino

director of aviation Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport

Baton Rouge