By Meghan Hall
Bremerton National Airport is nearing the construction start of a project that will add increased facilities to its holdings. A new multipurpose building that will include a restaurant, hangar and new pilot lounge are in the works, according to the Port of Bremerton. The project will break ground this summer and will be finished by mid- to late-2022.
Plans will include a 58-foot-by-65-foot aviation hangar, a pilot’s lounge and office space. A newly-designed restaurant, which will be family friendly, the Port noted, will replace the airport’s original dining option. Outdoor seating with a view of the airport runway is also planned.
The current restaurant is closed, and instead, a Willie B’s Kitchen is open to accommodate guests while the airport undergoes repositioning. The Port is currently looking for a new restaurant operator to fill the space.
“We are looking forward to bringing the airport dining experience back to the community,” Port CEO Jim Rothlin said in a statement. “Port staff will work side by side with a consulting team to help select an operator that will best fit this facility and this location.”
Phase One of the airport’s revamp, which was completed during 2020, included infrastructure for new hangers. The infrastructure will accommodate box or T-hangars and have been included in the plans to help meet the airport’s demand for hangar space. In all, three hangars have been added and will serve private corporate clients.
Currently, the airport has 7 corporate hangars, 73 condo hangars and 82 Port-owned hangars. A December 2020 economic fact sheet notes that currently, hangars are at 100 percent capacity. Over the course of 2020, airport tenants reported expenditures of $2.262 million.
According to its website, Bremerton National Airport is the largest airport on the Kitsap Peninsula, and the expansion comes as the airport looks to keep pace with a growing Kitsap County. The expansion is expected to cost the Port of Bremerton about $4.5 million. Additionally, the Airport was given a $2.2 million grant from the FAA and a $120,000 grant by WSDOT to upgrade the runway, taxiway and signage lighting. A back-up generator and new electrical control system will also be added.
The initial expansion will prove important as the greater Puget Sound continues to grow. A December 2020 report released by WSDOT’s Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission states that demand at Seattle Tacoma International Airport, the state’s largest airport, will exceed capacity by 2027. Currently, regional demand from passengers is expected to grow from 24 million in 2018 to between 49.3 million and 55.6 million by 2050.
“All aviation demand forecasts have indicated that the Puget Sound region, where most of Washington’s residents and businesses are located, is nearing its capacity limits,” states the report. “Over the last few decades, there have been many efforts to develop strategies that can accommodate growing demand. As the Puget Sound economy has flourished, the rate of aviation demand has increased significantly. Sea-Tac expansion has largely been able to keep pace with the demand, but is ultimately constrained by its geography, small footprint (2,500 acres), ground transportation accessibility, airspace congestion, and concerns about community impacts. “
Therefore, in addition to offering funds for Bremerton National Airport’s expansion, the Commission is also scouting additional locations for a new primary commercial aviation facility. The Commission is expected to identify its preferred location by January of 2022. The Commission hopes to have an additional facility completely built out by 2040.