view of mke looking north from the mke regional business park


Questions will be updated at various times to reflect both the current planning activities and input gathered during the planning process.

Why prepare a Master Plan Update?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires airports to maintain long-range plans for airport development so that airports make cost-effective facility and land use decisions that maintain a safe, secure, and efficient operating environment and that reflect local goals for the airport. This Master Plan Update will serve as a guide for managing and developing future facilities at MKE over the next two decades.

What are the main products of MKE's Master Plan Update?

Products of the planning process will include:

  • Airport long-range goals
  • Inventory of existing airport conditions and performance
  • Forecast of passenger, cargo, and aircraft demand
  • Future development concepts
  • Recommended 2040 development plan (known as “Airport Layout Plan”)

What is the purpose of the facilities inventory?

Airport planners conduct a facilities inventory to understand the existing capabilities of the Airport. This includes the types of facilities that are available and where they are located. Typically, planners categorize the inventory into airside (airfield and airspace), terminal, landside (passenger terminals and access facilities), general aviation, cargo, and support facilities (utilities, maintenance, emergency response facilities, and FAA facilities). Operational characteristics of the Airport are also evaluated during this step.

How are the aviation activity forecasts prepared and why are they important?

Forecasts of future activity (sometimes called “demand forecasts”) are prepared by reviewing historical trends and using a combination of statistical and economic modeling and professional judgment. For example, evaluating the past trends in passenger activity growth and considering the corresponding economic conditions can yield important insights. However, when projecting changes in airline service (for example, new international service), past trends are less helpful than professional judgment based on an understanding of the airline industry marketplace. Demand forecasts also consider identified industry trends (e.g., changes in average aircraft fleets/sizes).

Activity forecasts are important because the Airport must be able to meet aviation needs in the future and to provide a safe and efficient operating environment and therefore must provide the right types, configurations, and sizes of facilities as appropriate. These demand forecasts are used to establish the timing and need for future facilities.

What are the significant influences on the MKE forecast?

The MKE forecast is influenced by multiple factors. The primary driver of air travel demand is regional and national economic performance. Because passengers at MKE are primarily Origin and Destination (O&D), in other words beginning or ending their journey at MKE, both business and leisure travelers are necessary to support and expand air service.

The Airport’s role within an airline’s route network is also an important consideration. Some airlines operate hub and spoke networks where service to and from MKE will be primarily focused on those hubs, while other airlines operate more point-to-point routes. As demand grows, airlines will typically expand service at MKE based upon passenger demand and how the Airport fits within their network.

What is the FAA’s role in the Master Plan Study forecast?

The FAA is responsible for the review and approval of the forecast of future activity. The agency’s review is intended to ensure that forecasts are realistic, are based on reasonable planning assumptions, consider current data, and are developed using an appropriate methodology.

The FAA is also responsible for the review and approval of the Airport Layout Plan to ensure that it presents a reasonable planning concept, that it complies with FAA planning standards, and that it follows published guidance.

What are the goals of the Master Plan Update?

The planning team will be working with Airport representatives to define goals to guide the development and evaluation of alternative concepts for meeting forecast demand and other planning activities. Initial discussions that relate to goal definition have been held; more conclusive discussions will follow the completion of the inventory efforts and the draft forecasts of activity. The defined goals will be published when they are available. Learn more.

Will the public have input on the Airport’s preferred long-range development plan?

Yes, alternative development concepts and the process used to evaluate them will be presented to stakeholder committees and at public meetings to provide the opportunity for feedback. This input will be considered during the planning process.

Who will pay for the implementation of the Master Plan Update?

Public funding sources which would help to pay for the projects identified in the Master Plan Update can include: FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants (derived from taxes on national and international travel, air cargo taxes, and aviation fuel), state funding, taxes on tenant property, passenger facility charges, other Airport user fees, and general airport revenue bonds. In addition, private funding may be used for the development of specific facilities. The Master Plan will include a financial analysis of the preferred alternative outlining a funding plan of the proposed development projects. Improvement projects at the Airport will not be funded with property tax dollars.

Will aircraft noise and other potential environmental impacts be considered in the Master Plan Update?

Yes, potential environmental consequences associated with long-range development at MKE will be identified and considered as concepts are formed and evaluated. Efforts are made to avoid and minimize environmental consequences as the Airport’s future development is defined. Additionally, the anticipated environmental effects associated with the recommended development plan will be explored and documented in the Environmental Overview section of the Master Plan report. As specific development actions (i.e., individual projects) are initiated, an evaluation of associated environmental consequences will be made as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Also, a current noise footprint, reflecting an analysis of noise associated with the existing airfield, will be modeled to create a baseline for comparison of future aircraft noise changes as activity increases over the next decade.