Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Gogebic-Iron County Airport open

IRONWOOD TOWNSHIP - The Gogebic-Iron County Airport officially opened again Saturday evening after more than a month of runway reconstruction.

The runway rehabilitation and runway lighting reconstruction project required the airport closure on June 1. The $5.19 million project was to be completed on July 15, but weather and scheduling issues delayed the project until July 18.

"We're going back to work," said Michael Harma, airport manager.

There were engineers on the field who were overseeing all aspects of the construction, he said. But the airport employees were busy throughout the construction.

As contractors made minor repairs inside the terminal, the airport workers were staining windows and painting so that the strong odors would be gone by the time the building reopened, Harma said. Airport crews also painted the terminal parking lot lines after a contractor resurfaced the area.

"It's been a long six weeks," Harma said.

Commercial service started again on Monday, according to Shane Storz, CEO of Air Choice One airlines from the corporate office in St. Louis. The first flight flight back to Ironwood was from Chicago O'Hare International and landed at around 11:09 a.m. Monday, he said.

"We're back," Storz said of restoring daily flights to and from Minneapolis and Chicago.

Air Choice One, the Essential Air Service provider for commercial passengers, will hand over service to Boutique Air, Inc., the new EAS provider that will take over on Aug. 1.

"Our last flight out will be on Friday, July 31," Storz said. "We had six great years and I wish we could have stayed. But we're very thankful to have served the community and we want to say thanks for the opportunity."

Boutique Air will continue the daily nonstop round trip service to Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Boutique will fly the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft with an 8-to-9-seat configuration.

Civil aviation started immediately after the runway was declared open Saturday evening, Harma said. The first private planes were taking off and landing shortly after 8 p.m.

The runway work involved milling the existing surface and applying a new blacktop runway, after edge and end lighting boxes, conduit and wire were placed. A final coat of paint and surface cutting will be accomplished during a second shutdown period from Aug. 13-20.

The runway project was possible with a Federal Aviation Administration discretionary grant.