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Airport board talks coffee, cigarettes, changes

Glacier lounge open to year's end

Posted: January 10, 2013 - 1:08am

Passengers at the Juneau International Airport may soon have coffee in the lobby again, but don’t take that cup of joe out front for a smoke. Smoking may soon be banned along the curve of the airport’s entrance doors.

Airport Manager Jeannie Johnson said her office is drafting an ordinance to introduce to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly on Jan. 28.

“Which is really fast turnaround,” Johnson said. However, she said the ordinance would be “very simple.”

The ordinance could also be used by other owners and managers of similar outside space.

Johnson said she has yet to hear opposition to the ordinance. However, she was cautious in the face of politics.

“Who knows what will happen at the assembly level,” Johnson said.

Though Heritage Coffee Company declined the airport’s offer to operate a coffee business in the departure lounge they may have found a simplified compromise.

Heritage sells and maintains coffee machines from a company called Egro. These are similar to machines used on Alaska Marine Highway Service ferries.

“People like the product and it’s supposed to be a money maker,” Johnson said.

Glacier Restaurant Lounge and Catering is an airport money-maker that has remained in its basic location for at least the last 26 years. Its lease is up at the end of the year. However restaurant general manager Ella Rogers said folks may have mistaken that for the end of the month.

“Even that doesn’t mean we won’t rebid,” Rogers said. Depending on the space after the airport finishes its $6.9 million terminal remodel, she said.

Has the Glacier gone through a remodel before?

“Yeah, a lot of them,“ Rogers said.

Other changes might be less apparent to travelers, but are no less important.

The Juneau International Airport may soon have a new airport engineer. Prospective airport engineer Ken Nichols has been in town looking over the facility and working with airport staff on putting together the final pieces to bring him on board. However, he has yet to officially accept his job offer.

“I’m sure hoping that everything lines up for [Nichols and his family] as far as being able to find housing and other things they need in this community,” Jeannie Johnson airport manager said.

He spoke to the JIA Board Wednesday night.

“I’ve been in airports for almost 20 years,” Nichols said. “Airports is in my blood.”

Nichols said he helped Boise International Airport with its addition of Southwest Airlines. It was a push to bring in a big airline with giant ticket sales, he said. He said he has also worked on projects from roads to business parks to airfield development.

“I love doing projects in airports,” Nichols said. “It looks like you have some existing things that have to be done here.”

The airport plans to remove a ‘thumb’ of sediment that bends the river running northwest of the airport.

As the runway shifts, the airport must still keep the river navigable due to a harbor located upstream, Johnson said.

“We will to have a light bar in the river,” Johnson said. “That light bar in the river will narrow down the channel enough that we have to take that thumb off.”

Contractors Channel Construction have plans to remove sediment some time next week.

JIA received some positive feedback on their continuous efforts to improve and maintain the airport.

Alaska Airlines Pilot Kenny Williams gave props to Juneau’s airfield crew for maintaining great runway conditions; Williams was landing Alaska Air fight 75 in a strong tail wind on Sunday. He said for a safe landing the runway had to be in excellent landing condition.

“It is a great compliment from a pilot who lands large aircraft,” Airport Board Chairman Jerry Godkin said, “It goes a long way in a very short paragraph to compliment the staff.”

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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