MAC Newsletter, February 2020

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Welcome to the Metropolitan Airports Commission's e-newsletter.

Construction projects set for Lake Elmo and Crystal Airports

lake elmo const 2020

To improve safety and efficiency, Lake Elmo and Crystal airports - two general aviation airports operated by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) - will have their airfields reconfigured starting this year.

Part of the MAC’s Capital Improvement Program for 2020, the improvements will benefit hundreds of aircraft owners and pilots who use these airports every year.

At the Lake Elmo Airport, (pictured) located just east of the city of Saint Paul, work includes replacing Runway 14-32 and adding taxiways.

An environmental assessment, completed for the airport in 2018, documented that the existing Runway 14-32 and taxiway pavement is deteriorating and that the runway’s protection zones include incompatible land uses, including a railroad and two public roads.

Work in 2020 will include grading for the new runway, which will shift to the northeast and extend in length from its current 2,580 feet to 3,500 feet. This work will begin later this summer. Paving for the new runway and taxiways will begin in 2021, with completion of the project in 2022.

Work is also underway to reconfigure 30th Street, looping it to the south from its previous alignment in order to place it outside the runway protection zone. Storm water improvements and wetland mitigation are also part of the project.

At Crystal Airport, located west of Minneapolis, Runway 14R-32L will be converted to a taxiway and a parallel runway, 14L-32R, will become the main runway. Several new connections to the runway and taxiways will also be added, while others are removed.

The improvements at Crystal will increase aircraft parking capacity and enhance safety by simplifying the airfield’s layout. The existing turf runway at Crystal will remain, but at a shorter length.

A new service road is also part of the project, which will help reduce the number of vehicle crossings of the runway and improve operational safety.

The Crystal Airport project includes a sustainability component, as millings from existing asphalt will be used as part of the aggregate base for the new service road. Additionally, the airfield’s new lighting will use light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are more efficient.

Construction at Crystal Airport is set to begin this summer and is being coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration. The work is scheduled for completion by the fall of 2020.

Environmental review processes preceded the work at both Crystal and Lake Elmo. At both airports, the FAA determined that the proposed development would not result in significant environmental impacts, one of several steps completed prior to the start of design and construction.

The MAC operates six reliever airports in the Twin Cities area to serve the general aviation community, including both recreational flying and corporate aircraft. Together, the reliever airports support more than 1,800 direct and indirect jobs, more than $100 million in annual wages and total economic output of $662 million.

Airport employees complete MSP's Workforce English course


Said Omar, front row, second from right, was one of the certificate earners in the latest cohort of Workforce English students, and he plans to continue his education.

Said Omar was among a group of students who recently completed the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s Workforce English course, and Omar is following up that experience with plans for additional learning outside the MAC.

“The class was very interesting,” said Omar, who works for Enterprise Rent-a-Car at Terminal 1. “It focuses on workforce English and how to help people.”

The program recently signed up enrollees for the next section of the course, which starts next month. So far, 24 employees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) are taking advantage of the opportunity, which is offered at no charge.

“The language class continues to be popular. We’re pleased employees are eager to improve their language skills,” said Hae Eun Park, co-chair of the MSP Jobs Committee, which developed and implemented the language course. “It’s a benefit for the employees and, ultimately, MSP passengers as well.”

The course includes one classroom session each week for four months, along with regular homework.

The MAC coordinates the Workforce English program with the Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning in St. Paul, which is part of the St. Paul Public School system and offers a variety of courses for adult learners. The center each day instructs about 700 students, who speak 70 different languages.

Many of the students in the airport’s course are recent immigrants to the United States who work in retail, restaurant or commercial jobs at MSP.

Omar, 39, immigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia in 2015. A native of Somalia, he had fled that country’s civil war and grew up in Ethiopia, where he earned a college degree in animal science.

The airport course’s content helps to improve vocabulary and grammar, Omar said, with an emphasis on customer service skills. The instruction includes fine-tuning of accents as well.

In Ethiopia, Omar said, English is spoken with a British accent. In the Workforce English course, students received instruction on how to improve their American accent along with their conversational skills.

Omar worked for many years for Save the Children, an international organization that works to help children survive and develop. The organization’s Ethiopia operation is its largest globally, with 2,400 staff and 50 offices across the country. Omar worked in animal husbandry, caring for and breeding animals that serve as livestock.

His wife and children immigrated to the U.S. ahead of him and petitioned for him to join them. He arrived in the U.S. in 2015, and is the father of five children, ranging in age from 11 months to 11-years-old. Omar started work at Enterprise at MSP in 2017, where he works as a driver at the company’s location at Terminal 1. 

Omar is now looking to further his education, with plans to enroll in a six-month IT course later this year, which will update his computer-related skills.

MSP Airport job fair draws hundreds to Terminal 2

job fair feb 2020 image 2

The MSP Airport job fair held earlier this week drew a big crowd, with more than 400 people arriving in the first hour.

The total number of attendees for the full three-hour job fair was estimated at more than 800.

"We're really pleased with the turnout and we know anecdotally that a lot of people landed jobs on the spot," said Jay Noseworthy, the MAC's manager of concessions operations. "In a tight Twin Cities-area job market, it's great to see so many people show interest in a job at MSP."

The job fair at Terminal 2 on Tuesday featured dozens of tables staffed by airport employers looking for workers to fill restaurant, retail, hotel, airline, hospitality and aviation-related positions.

If you're looking for a job, you can still find information about open positions at MSP on the airport's online job board.

Opportunity: Become a Travelers Assistance volunteer at MSP

msp volunteers 2020

Would you or someone you know be interested in volunteering at MSP Airport? If so, the Airport Foundation MSP – which oversees the volunteer program – would like to hear from you.

“There are a variety of ways for people to serve through our volunteer program – whether as “go-guides” walking the airport looking for people who need assistance, working at the Information Booths scattered throughout MSP answering questions, or becoming one of our Animal Ambassador teams,” said Laura Sartain, director of Foundation Programs who oversees its Travelers Assistance efforts.  

Sara Ernst, volunteer manager with Airport Foundation MSP, explained the benefits of volunteering with the program:

  • Flexible scheduling: Pick your own schedule (at least two shifts per month, typically 4 hours each)
  • Free parking while volunteering
  • Camaraderie and recognition for a job well-done (including free treats and beverages)
  • A fun and meaningful way to give back to the community
  • Bragging rights: MSP is perennially ranked among the world’s top airports largely due to its people

Volunteers also work with travelers who have special needs and at airport events like art show openings and musical performances.

As the program’s recruiting ads proclaim: “Volunteers are the Heart of MSP Airport!”

Learn more about volunteering or contact Sara Ernst at 612-726-8179 or

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