A proposed expansion to add a commercial passenger terminal at McKinney National Airport is still in limbo following a May 23 City Council work session.

Following the failure of a $200 million bond proposition in the May 6 election to fund the proposed airport expansion project, alternative funding options were presented to City Council members for consideration. However, council members didn’t provide any feedback to city staff on whether to pursue an alternate funding source and proceed with the airport expansion project.

How we got here

A bond committee convened in late 2022 to consider the proposed commercial terminal and addition of commercial service at McKinney National Airport. The plans for the proposed expansion project included adding a 144,000-square-foot commercial terminal with four gates, 2,000 parking spaces, enhanced passenger experience amenities and more on the east side of McKinney National Airport.

The overall project scope totaled $300 million, of which $200 million was proposed to be funded by general obligation bonds. McKinney voters didn’t approve the bond proposition on the May 6 ballot with 58.69% of votes cast, or 12,822 votes, being against the measure.

The details

There are options for funding a commercial passenger terminal at McKinney National Airport despite the general obligation bond proposition failure, according to a presentation at the meeting.

Edward Shelswell-White of SkySynergy, an aviation consultant who worked with the city during the bond proposition process, presented typical funding sources other than general obligation bonds that can be used for airport capacity projects.

According to the presentation, other typical funding sources used include some combination of:
  • Federal and state funds
  • Bonds backed by passenger facility charges
  • Bonds backed by general airport revenue
  • Cash reserves on hand
  • Airline development
  • Public-private partnership development
Quote of note: “The reason for pursuing a city-run and -funded development initially, again, was because it provided the best path to get the economic benefits of commercial service as fast as possible with maximum control of the division of the lowest cost,” Shelswell-White said.

Going forward

Council members didn’t provide any feedback to city staff on whether to pursue an alternate funding source for the airport expansion project.

Shelswell-White directed council members to consider the results of the bond election as well as other development options and the feasibility of alternate funding methods prior to providing feedback on how to move forward.

Shelswell-White also noted the consultancy will remain in contact with representatives of candidate airlines while council members consider options for the development at the airport.

“[Airport representatives] understand even better than we do that airport development anywhere tends to have an element of controversy, so what happened here on May 6 is not unusual at all,” Shelswell-White said. “It's not going to deter the airlines.”

Assistant City Manager Barry Shelton said the city would likely retain the city-owned land on the east side of the airport if city leaders don’t proceed with the commercial terminal project.

“The airport is still a major player in the economic future of McKinney; whether it's commercial passenger service or it's more [general aviation] or other types of aeronautical uses, it's still a big player,” Shelton said. “We have lots of land, ... lots of opportunities for things that would be beneficial to McKinney.”