Could a commercial airport be in Eastern Kentucky's future? Leaders in one county hope so and are already making plans.
Pike County leaders say Big Sandy Area Development District officials are researching turning the Pike County Airport into a commercial airport. They say an independent firm is conducting the study with federal funds, but they believe a commercial airport is just what Eastern Kentucky needs.
To get almost anywhere in Eastern Kentucky, you have to drive and if you are going out of the Eastern Kentucky region, it could be a long car ride. So Pike County leaders want to get rid of that long drive and make it a flight. A proposed plan would turn the Pike County Airport into a commercial airport, but quicker travel isn't their only reason.
"We need commercial air service to have the kind of industry that we want," said T.J. Litafik, Pike County Judge Executive Assistant.
Officials say to attract new businesses to not just Pike County but the entire region. Companies need a faster way to get their goods and services into the area.
"We have to have accessibility so that people will want to come here to create jobs," Litafik said.
Pike County Airport Board Chairman Mike DeBourbon wants the change. He believes once commercial planes can get here, then the new businesses and industry will follow.
"You bring the materials here you got a workforce that knows how to get the components together. It employs people," DeBourbon said.
They believe the airplanes could change the mountains.
There's no timeline on when the study will be finished to determine if the Pike County Airport could turn commercial and if it does turn commercial, officials at the airport say they will have to make a lot of changes to the runways and terminal to accommodate.