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Denali Area Airport Planning Study

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a 'planning study'?

A planning study is a fiscally viable plan for future airport development that identifies development needs, documents issues, and addresses the concerns of the affected public, businesses, and agencies. The planning study process is prudent and required for federal funding.

Planning studies follow the federal guidance for aviation system planning, which explores how the focus area (Denali) airports feed into the National Airspace System providing everyone access to national and international air transportation.

Federal law 49 USC 47102(9) defines "integrated airport system planning" as "developing for planning purposes, information, and guidance to decide the extent, kind, location, and timing of airport development needed in a specific area to establish a viable, balanced, and integrated system of public-use airports." The State of Alaska requires a publicly transparent process to identify and guide infrastructure investment. Regional and modal planning studies in Alaska feed information into the statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).

Who is paying for this study?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds the Denali Area Airport Planning Study (DAAPS). The AIP provides grants to public agencies for the planning and development of public-use airports included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS).

The State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF), Northern Region is the grant sponsor and provides grant and project management, as well as the funding match required by the program.

Why is this study being done?

The study will examine the constraints and conditions at existing airports serving the Denali area to determine whether the current system meets the region's needs. This information-gathering process includes extensive public and agency involvement to guide decision-making.

The Denali Borough has long advocated for the development of a regional airport with the capacity to handle medevac and commuter aircraft. The 2015 Denali Borough Comprehensive Plan listed a goal of pursuing the development of a regional airport. The 2018 Denali Borough Land Use and Economic Development Plan reiterated the need for a regional airport, designated a proposed regional airport site, and supplied a map detailing the proposed site. In 2019, the Denali Borough Planning Commission passed and approved Resolution PC19-02, calling for a site selection study for "a regional airport that would be capable of handling 'life flight' and commuter aircraft from Anchorage to increase public safety and access for residents and tourist."

The highly publicized Doyon Limited 2022 Denali Airport Concept Overview created a statewide discussion surrounding a new commercial service airport in the region. The Doyon Limited document and recommendation is the outcome of a privately funded study and does not meet the FAA's requirements for airport development inclusion in the NPIAS. An airport must be included in the NPIAS to be eligible for federal financial assistance under the AIP.

The system planning process fits the needs of the Denali area because it supports looking at multiple airports and how they fit together as part of the National Airspace System and the Alaska Aviation System. The process will also consider how the airports interact with the aviation user requirements, economy, population, and surface transportation specific to this geographic area.

What airports does this study include?

The planning team is identifying all airports serving the Denali area, including some outside the Denali Borough, to document how the aviation system interacts. For example, Minchumina (MHM) might be considered a bad-weather alternative to Kantishna (5Z5). The review and documentation of non-NPIAS (ineligible for federal funding) airports is an accepted part of FAA Aviation System Planning; however, the primary focus, research, and public outreach will be the State-owned public use airports serving the year-round population areas. The map below indicates the airports identified as serving the Denali area.

Denali Airport Area Planning Study map

How are people involved?

Public involvement is essential to developing a viable plan. A survey is available to collect input from all stakeholders. Click the button to take the survey.

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Sign up for our Stakeholder Mailing List to be notified of upcoming meetings, updates, and participation opportunities.

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Email our team directly at:

Public meeting planning is under way with the first public meeting scheduled for April 18, 2024, at the Aurora Denali Lodge, Taiga Room, MP 249.5 Parks Highway. Public meetings are open to all and available for virtual participation. All public meetings will be posted on the website ( and emailed to the stakeholder list. Notifications will also be sent by our partners at the Denali Borough, and other willing organizations and agencies. If your group or agency is interested in helping us share information about the study, please email us.

Team members are available to provide briefings to agencies and organizations in a smaller group setting, if the meeting is open to the public.

Stakeholder outreach is continually evolving - our team always looks for new, more effective ways to reach all who wish to participate. If you have an idea or suggestion for our public and agency involvement team, please reach out. "Planning for the future, together" isn't just a tagline on the logo. We want and need your participation in the process for this plan to be successful.

How do I submit comments?

Email, take the survey, attend a public meeting, or write us at:

Denali Airport Planning Study
Becky Cronkhite, RESPEC Project Manager
1028 Aurora Drive
Fairbanks, Alaska 99709

If you prefer to speak on the phone or in person, please email us to arrange a meeting time.