The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Friday unveiled a new terminal and hangar at Easterwood Airport, which features 8,000 square feet of conference, flight planning, passenger and pilot space and 40,000 square feet of aircraft storage.
The new structures have been planned for approximately six years, part of a $15 million project funded by Astin Aviation as part of a partnership with the A&M System. The buildings will serve corporate, military and general aviation purposes.
A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said he wants the first thing visitors see upon arriving at Easterwood to be something nice. Thanks to Astin Aviation, the eye-catching new welcome symbol hasn't cost state taxpayers any money, and the A&M System will benefit on a percentage of the airport's profits on sales such as fuel.
"This is a really special deal," said Sharp as he addressed the crowd gathered at the grand opening of the new facility. "Any time you've got a deal where you don't have to pay any money for upgrades and you get the revenue that comes from it, that's a good deal. We figured that out. For a long time, I guess you can say we had not the best facility over here at the private aviation terminal. It certainly wasn't reflective of what Texas A&M University and the System have grown into. But boy, this is."
Astin Aviation CEO John Clanton described the original hangar and terminal from the 1940s as being tiny and without many features. Expanding Easterwood's capabilities with fresh features will play out to be, he predicts, an advantageous investment for both his company and the Texas A&M System.
"Our vision was pretty simple," he said. "If you came into this [fixed base operations terminal] any time before 1993, it would have been a little one- to two-room facility.... Even the hangar built here in 1946 was second hand. We got it out of Corsicana. So, in over 70 years, this is the first time some dedication has come to this. And those customers are terribly important to us."
The new terminal at Easterwood is open, and the new hangar will be in full use within the next 30 days, Clanton said.