Airport expansion approved; what’s next?


NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – New possibilities are opening up at the North Little Rock Municipal Airport.

“I think it’s going to be a game changer for North Little Rock,” Tommy Murchison said.

The city council approving more than 5 and half million dollars worth of expansion and renovations at the municipal airport Monday night.

The mayor broke the tie.

Murchison is the owner of the NLR Jet Center at the airport. It’s one of two fixed-based operators or FBOs on campus. Both are at capacity.

“Ninety-five percent of our business is local,” he said.

But by adding another corporate jet hanger, three smaller hangers, a new terminal, more parking and a restaurant, Murchison says they’ll be better able to compete.

“I can guarantee you that when you’re flying across the country and you have a choice, the one’s that got the restaurant will be your choice most of the time,” he said.

Lure them in with the food — but make money with the fuel.

“The corporate airplanes will burn anywhere from 180 to 220 gallons an hour,” he said, a pilot himself.

At about 5 dollars a gallon, Murchison and Ward 4 Alderman Charlie Hight are looking toward the future.

“The revenue that that facility that airport produces benefits a lot of people in North Little Rock,” Hight said. The airport is in his ward.

“There’s a whole lot of business that comes through an airport that you may not see that’s going back into the community,” Murchison said.

The owners of the jets in his hanger own businesses locally that employ thousands of people.

So the expansion of the airport makes room for more businesses to take flight.

According to the mayor’s office, about $4.5 million is coming from revenue bonds.

Franchise fee revenue that normally goes into the general fund will instead go toward paying off the bonds.

Each year the city pays $100,000 to the airport. That will end and instead the city will pay $408,000 each year to pay off the bonds, according to the city.

The additional million dollars will be paid for through a land sale within the city.

Homer’s restaurant has expressed interest in adding its third location to the airport.

The city believes the restaurant will not only attract pilots, but locals to the airport and give them a unique experience.

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