Range Regional Airport Seeks State Funding for Renovation

By KBJR News 1

February 25, 2013 Updated Feb 25, 2013 at 8:09 PM CDT

Hibbing, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Range Regional Airport is experiencing a growing number of people boarding flights at their terminal and they expect that number to increase even more.

But the terminal isn't growing along with the passenger traffic, creating a crowding problem – one which airport officials are hoping $5 million in state funding can help fix.

"It's standing room only. It really looks like packed sardines," said Executive Director, Shaun Germolus, of the post-security waiting area, "The waiting room being too warm, too tight, too crowded."

Germolus says passenger boarding at the airport is up thirty-percent in four years, with more than 12,000 people flying in and out of Range Regional last year alone.

It's great for the airport, but not so great if you're one of the sometimes more than 100 passengers in a waiting area meant for 35 people.

"It's not very efficient. It's not very comfortable. There are no restrooms in this area as well," said Germolus.

The terminal was built in 1978, before the TSA required space for passenger and baggage screening, which now takes place in the same area as the baggage claim.

"Trying to work around the TSA as luggage is stacking up, it gets very tight," said Germolus.

It's a problem that Germolus and Range legislators are hoping to fix with $5 million in state funding.

A renovation of the terminal would add on about 6,000 square feet and create a waiting room that would fit 90 people.

Germolus hopes the renovation will better serve the airport's customers.

"[It will give] them the comforts that they deserve," said Germolus.

Germolus is speaking to the senate on Wednesday to push for approval of the funding.

He says he hopes that the grant is approved this year, because it isn't a traditional bonding year, meaning that there will be less competition for the state funds.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.