Gary Airport acquires Griffith-Merrillville Airport

GARY, Ind. - Officials with the Gary/Chicago International Airport (GCIA) on Wednesday announced the acquisition of Griffith-Merrillville Airport, located about 10 miles south in Lake County.

Plans for the acquisition, valued at $1.8 million, began in late 2022, and officials say it will build on the “significant growth and investment” the Gary airport has seen over the last decade.

Additionally, airport officials say the deal will provide avenues for future infrastructure enhancements at the Griffith-Merrillville Airport.

“We are excited to acquire this local airport and bolster our short- and long-term aviation offerings,” GCIA Authority Chairman Pete Visclosky said in a news release. “The past decade of strong planning, investments and growth of our airport has put us in a position where we can acquire this new asset, helping sustain our local aviation offerings while building for the future as well.”

The acquisition was funded through previously-budgeted dollars generated from local airport revenue sources, the Gary airport said, adding it received instrumental support from the Federal Aviation Administration and Indiana Department of Transportation to make the deal happen.

Because of the deal, the Griffith-Merrillville Airport is now eligible for federal and state funding for improvements.

“Griffith/Merrillville is a key Reliever Airport in the Indiana Aviation System,” INDOT State Aviation Director Marty Blake said. “GCIA’s acquisition will allow for continued partnership with our office to improve facilities at Griffith/Merrillville and will reinforce the $21 million regional annual economic impact this airport provides.”

Griffith-Merrillville Airport was originally established in the 1960s and was completely rebuilt in 2021. Designed for smaller aircraft, the facility includes 4,900-foot runways, more than 175,000-square-feet of ramp area and a 38,000-square-foot terminal building.

“We look forward to the substantial operations benefits to GCIA as well as the significant economic benefits to Northwest Indiana that will result from this acquisition,” said Craig Anderson of the Griffith-Merrillville Airport. “This will provide GCIA with the needed operational flexibility to growing its offerings, while offering smaller operators to function out of the Griffith facility and ensuring the long-term viability of the Griffith-Merrillville Airport.”

The acquisition complements major growth the Gary airport has seen, starting with the completion of a $174 million runway extension in 2015 that brought the airport’s main runway to nearly 9,000 feet. That was followed the next year by the $2.4 million rehabilitation of a crosswind runway.

In 2018, the airport opened its new general aviation U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. Since that time, the airport has surpassed more than 400 international flights.

The Gary airport began cargo service operations in 2020 through a partnership with UPS. Earlier this year, the airport received $6 million in federal funding to fuel enhancements to its cargo service, including a heavy air cargo logistics apron that will support up to 18 large cargo jets and could be used by multiple tenants.

The improvements, as well as the Griffith airport acquisition, are building to what could be a return to passenger service at the Gary airport. In September 2022, airport officials approved a contract with a consulting firm that would conduct analyses and meet with airlines regarding a return to service.

The Gary airport hasn’t seen passenger service since Allegiant Air ended its operations in 2013.

Source | Inside Indiana Business ::

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