Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport Upgrades in the Works as It Looks to Keep Pace with Demand

May 17, 2021

Credit Matthew Leitner

A new parking payment system, HVAC System, elevator, road repairs, and a cell phone parking lot are all on the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport Director’s to-do list.

They’re not as flashy a renovated waiting area or adding a new airline, both of which the airport has already done in the last year, but Director Matthew Leitner says they’re necessary steps for the airport to keep pace with the demand it’s seeing.

“Wow yeah. It’s moving at the speed of light. As you know, United is coming in July with service to Chicago. Delta has expanded even beyond what they were planning for 2020, after 2019. We had the pandemic. They had plans before that hit. They’ve taken those plans and they’ve added additional capacity and additional flights to and from Minneapolis/St. Paul. We have new secure area with expanded seating,” said Leitner.

The list of projects will be paid for mostly with CARES Act funding and then with FAA and state money for projects not eligible.

In the last three years, the airport has done $19 million worth of projects and is looking at another $10 million over the next two years.

Leitner says those investments feed back into the Northwoods.

“Economically it’s responsible for, and this was before the Delta expansion, this was before United, this was before all these projects, we were responsible, the airport that is, for $35 million of aggregate economic impacts so that definitely translates to a higher quality of life in my opinion,” said Leitner. “Furthermore, when it comes to job opportunities, business expansion, things of that nature, this connectivity is certainly in furtherance of that.”

Some of the projects are already in the works to be done early next year. Others go out to bid in the next few weeks with the goal of having them done by the end of this year.