GARY, Ind. (AP) — The opening of an extended runway at Gary/Chicago International Airport is expected to bring more activity, but it will come gradually over time, according to aviation experts involved in the project.

The airport in Gary could model itself after Chicago/Rockford International Airport, which has seen success with leisure airlines and has ranked nationally as a top 25 cargo airport, said Joseph Schwieterman, a professor at DePaul University and director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

"The prospects are good. But Gary may have to be patient. It may take a few years," he said.

Strategic plans drawn up over the past five years don't predict a boom in regularly scheduled commercial passenger airlines at the airport any time soon, The (Munster) Times (http://bit.ly/1FK3TKB ) reported. But the plans have highlighted the potential for attracting charters and leisure-destination airlines, and eventually using those to increase regularly scheduled commercial passenger service.

Now almost 2,000 feet longer, the extended runway should help Gary/Chicago International Airport fulfill both of those goals, especially in terms of regularly scheduled commercial passenger service, said Will Davis, owner of the Gary Jet Center.

The airport's former runway limited the size, type and destination of commercial airplanes that could serve passengers there, he said.

"If you are ever going to have an airline here, that's the one that would benefit the most, depending on where they want to go from here," Davis said.

Similar to Schwieterman's appraisal, Davis said he believes that the runway expansion should cause business at the airport to grow at "a gradual, measured" pace.

The new runway opened last week and a formal ceremony is planned for next week.

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Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com