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Smaller runway forces airlines to limit number of passengers per plane at Lake Charles Regional

Last Modified: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 7:41 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Airplanes at Lake Charles Regional Airport are limiting the number of passengers allowed on board to decrease the weight of planes using the smaller, secondary runway while the primary runway is closed for maintenance.

The primary runway is receiving a $2.4 million makeover, during which some pavement is being replaced. The primary runway is 6,500 feet long while the secondary runway is only 5,200. The airplanes have to weigh less to safely take off on the shorter runway.

“The aircraft, depending on weather and different conditions, have to take some weight penalties,” said executive director Heath Allen. “Sometimes bags might get bumped or passengers will be asked to volunteer to get off the airplane.”

The airport’ two airlines, American and United, are offering travel vouchers to passengers on these flights.

“In a perfect world, the airlines will restrict their seating and sales,” Allen said. “But weather is sometimes unforeseen and they may end up with more people and more fuel because of bad weather.”

Allen said this was something he predicted may happen. And with maintenance on the main runway expected to be completed on schedule in May, Allen said the summer rush of travel will not be affected.

“There’s nothing we can do as an airport,” he said. “It’s maintenance that has to be done, so fortunately we do have the secondary runway.”

He added that the vast majority of the airport’s operations have not been affected.

Allen said it hasn’t created a major problem and that it was an “unavoidable” consequence of the maintenance.

“If you end up with bad weather with extremely strong cross winds out of the south then it could be a problem,” he said. “So far it has worked out well, but it could get worse.”

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