Florida’s Opa-Locka West Airport to close

Officials in Florida are preparing to officially remove Opa-Locka West Airport (X46) from the list of active airports in the Sunshine State.

The airport was badly damaged in October 2005 by Hurricane Wilma. The unattended facility sports two runways, 9-27 and 18-36. The airport sits on 420 acres.

Sunil Harman, director of aviation planning in Miami-Dade County, said intentions are to have the airport decommissioned and then turn the land into a quarry for limerock.

“We think we can get 47 million cubic feet of rock from the site,” he said. “The value of which, depending on the quality of rock, could be between $500 million to $1.2 billion.”

The airport has “essentially been closed since last hurricane season,” he added. “It is a touch and go facility at best with a very rudimentary infrastructure.”

The loss of the airport will not be a hardship in terms of air traffic needs, he noted.

“At its peak in the early 1970s it had about 125,000 take offs and landings,” he said. “Over the last year it had maybe 35,000 takeoffs and landings. We have five airports in our system and, even if traffic were to grow at 2%-4% annually, we would not see the other airports reaching capacity until past 2030. Also, six minutes away from Opa-Locka West is Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport (TNT). It has a 10,000 foot runway and is only at 15% of its overall capacity.”

The county has obtained preliminary approval from the FAA to close the airport and is now awaiting a formal letter, Harmon said.

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