Acadiana Regional Airport
Situated in the heart of America's Energy Corridor, the Acadiana Regional Airport in New Iberia, La., is an economic engine with untapped potential.
The airport, with its 8,002-foot concrete runway, can accommodate the largest jets that fly today. It is also home to a 5,000-foot water runway for amphibious craft - unique to the continental U.S. And it has plenty of room to grow - some 1,200 acres for prime business development.
"It's a tremendous facility," said Michael Tarantino, president and CEO of the Iberia Industrial Development Foundation. "We have prime frontage on the runway, and we have room to expand."
Beginning in 1946, the airfield was used for civil aviation. In 1954, the U.S. Department of Defense developed it as a naval air station, providing its massive runway, until abandoning it a decade later. But in 1970, the Iberia Parish government took over 2,100 acres and christened it "Acadiana Regional Airport."
Today, the fully certified, general aviation airport is an intermodal hub, with its unique runways, on-site Louisiana Delta rail spur, easy access to the future I-49 corridor, rail-to-truck offloading facility and close proximity to the Port of Iberia and the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. More than 100,000 flights take off and land there annually, including flights for the military and astronauts in training.
In recent years, the airport has emerged as a critical regional economic engine, with more than 50 companies and 1,750 employees. It is home to Air Logistics, the world's largest provider of helicopter services; Aggreko, a global leader in compressed air systems; and AvEx, a leader in aviation exterior painting.
Louisiana Technical College and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette New Iberia Research Center both have campuses there, as does Bristow Academy, a nationally accredited helicopter flight training school.
Airport Director F. Jason Devillier noted that in the past two years, the airport has received $4.5 million in federal grants and private investment for new hangars, railway lights, generators and other infrastructure improvements.
The airport's master plan targets industries that are ideal for business development, including air cargo, logistics and transportation, which could win Acadiana Regional Airport a "one-stop shop" designation.
"We already have pieces of the aircraft business, with AvEx and others," Tarantino said. "So we're working hard to make this a place where you can get your aircraft totally overhauled."
Bulk food processing is another priority. Louisiana Specialty Products already manufactures bulk vinegar on site and ships it out from the airport.
Also in the works are efforts to have the region designated a foreign-trade zone.
"I fly to a lot of different airports all over the South, and I have yet to see another facility with so much potential," says Airport Board Chairman Travis Segura. "We have all the elements essential for growth."