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McKinney's airport could become a commercial flight hub after May 6 bond vote

A digital rendering of the new commercial terminal proposed for McKinney National Airport in McKinney, Texas.
City of McKinney
A digital rendering of the new commercial terminal proposed for McKinney National Airport in McKinney, Texas.

In a county with an ever-growing population, McKinney officials want residents to vote on a bond that could turn the local general aviation airport into a third large airport for North Texas.

McKinney residents will get the chance to vote on a $200 million bond that would help turn McKinney National Airport into a commercial flight hub.

McKinney City Council members voted to put the bond on the May ballot at its Tuesday meeting. Airport officials previously presented their findings in favor of airport expansion last month.

Ken Carley, director of McKinney National Airport, said this project has been in the works for a decade. After demonstrated interest from airlines and residents, he said it finally made sense for the airport to seek help from the city.

“That kind of leads us to where we're at now with this bond referendum on the May ballot," Carley said. "We're going to let the citizens of McKinney decide if it's a thing they want to bring to the community."

McKinney National currently serves as a general aviation airport. Officials project the airport would fly out about 12 commercial flights every day in its first year if expanded.

With four gates and 144,000 square feet, the expanded airport would be significantly smaller than the metroplex’s two main airports, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field.

However, both DFW and Love Field are about 40 minutes away from McKinney. Collin County has just over a million residents, and Carley said a closer regional airport can better serve a fast-growing population.

“By the time you get to one of the other airports and you're parked and everything, you're already stressed out before you’re even stepping into the terminal with the drive and the parking situation,” Carley said. “So, I just think for us, it’ll be hopefully a more convenient and a more pleasant travel experience, is what we're really trying to deliver.”

Airport officials told council members the rest of the funds for the $300 million project would likely come from federal grants and loans. The city approved the airport’s long-term plan in 2018 and city officials say further developments for the airport are one of their main goals.

But McKinney Mayor George Fuller said the May vote won’t permanently determine the future of McKinney National.

"If you’re pro-airport, [this election] doesn’t ensure that the airport is going to be built. If you’re anti-airport, it doesn’t mean the airport is going to be built," Fuller said Tuesday. "It means that we have taken a step in the many, many steps required before we get to the place where we are saying ‘I do’ at the altar."

Got a tip? Email Toluwani Osibamowo at You can follow Toluwani on Twitter @tosibamowo.

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Toluwani Osibamowo is a general assignments reporter for KERA. She previously worked as a news intern for Texas Tech Public Media and copy editor for Texas Tech University’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is originally from Plano.