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Gary/Chicago International Airport continues to see increased air traffic in its first full year under private operation.

Landings and takeoffs at the airport increased 33 percent in the first seven months of this year as compared to the first seven months of 2014, Airport Manager Delbert Brown told the authority board at its regular meeting Monday at the Administration Building.

The airport's 14,682 landings and takeoffs through the end of July put it on track to exceed the 22,029 landings and takeoffs taking place in all of last year. Before the recession, the airport often recorded more than 40,000 landings and takeoffs per year, according to figures from Indiana Department of Transportation.

In comments after the meeting, Brown said positive publicity for the airport, including the successful conclusion of its $174 million expansion project, has more and more people taking notice.

"We have a brand new FBO (fixed base operator) that is attracting business; B. Coleman Aviation, and the Gary Jet Center is doing their marketing; and Boeing has increased their business as well," Brown said.

B. Coleman Aviation and the Gary Jet Center both offer fueling, charters and other services at the airport. Boeing Corp., headquartered in Chicago, houses its corporate jet fleet there.

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AvPorts, a subsidiary of Aviation Facilities Company Inc., inked a deal in January 2014 to operate the airport for up to 30 years. AvPorts spent much of last year getting its management team together, including Brown, and standardizing airport procedures.

Landings and takeoffs are an important source of airport revenue, as the airport charges both landing and parking fees. It also reaps a per-gallon fuel charge for all jet fuel and aviation gasoline pumped.

In other action at the meeting, airport expansion project manager John Lukas told authority members the main runway will be closed from 6 p.m. Aug. 18 until 6 a.m. on Aug. 20 to allow for remarking pavement. The shorter crosswind runway will remain open.

The remarking of the main runway will shift the threshold of its southeast end to the west, which will finally give both the southeast and northwest ends the 1,000 foot safety areas mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

That mandate was one of the chief reasons for undertaking the expansion of the main runway. If that mandate had not been met, the FAA had threatened to shorten the runway's usable space, which would have sharply limited the types of planes that could land there.

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