CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Gerald R. Ford International Airport has been named one of the top 20 best small airports by USA TODAY’s Reader’s Choice Awards.
The airport is hoping the community will help vote it into the top 10 and recognize the improvements being made.
Casey Ries is the director of engineering and planning for the airport and was excited to hear that it has been named a finalist by the publication.
“It’s great for our hometown airport to get some national recognition. We all work so hard to connect our community,” Ries said.
The airport recently opened a new expansion of Concourse A and work is underway to widen and renovate the former terminal — an investment of $112 million.
A new $156 million rental car building is also under construction, which will free up additional parking in the existing garage.
A federal inspection station is planned to allow for direct international flights and design work is underway for relocating and building a new air traffic control tower.
“We want to act like a big airport and attract lots of airlines and lots of direct destinations, but we want to do that in a way where our guests still feel like they are home, so everyone knows you are still in West Michigan. You shouldn’t expect a two-hour wait line at TSA. You should be able to have some local products,” Ries said.
The projects are designed to improve the passenger experience and to help meet the growing demand for flights to West Michigan.
“The investment over 10 years will be over a half a billion dollars in very strategic identified shortcomings of our infrastructure. So, this isn’t random investments in nice to haves for our community rather as we connect more to the world we need larger aircraft meaning larger hold rooms,” Ries said.
Additional upcoming projects will help meet the growing capacity.
“We’re also addressing baggage claim needs. In the spring, we’ll start a terminal enhancement program to improve ticketing and baggage claim experience for our guests,” Ries said.
The airport hopes to make it through the next round into the 10Best competition.
“Let’s use our infrastructure, let’s use our story, let’s use Lake Michigan and this excuse to vote for one of the best small airports in the country to tell the world what West Michigan is,” Ries said.
If you would like to vote in the competition, you can do so on the 10Best website.