Friday, February 03, 2012

Mid-Ohio Valley Regional (KPKB), Parkersburg, West Virginia: Airport manager happy with FAA funding bill.

February 3, 2012
By JOLENE CRAIG, Parkersburg News and Sentinel

WILLIAMSTOWN - The expected upcoming passage of a new Federal Aviation Administration funding bill by the U.S. Congress has allowed the manager of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport to breathe a sigh of relief.

"For us, it sounds OK," said airport manager Terry Moore. "There is no real effect locally with the (legislation) as is."

With the new law, five airports in the state will be able to make long-term plans for federal grant funds and be assured commercial air service through the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, according to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

"Once this is passed, we should be able to continue to run as-is," said Moore. "While we are not directly affected by the changes, we will be able to keep going."

He added that because Congress has not passed new funding legislation in four years - only extending the past funding bill - airports that receive the money haven't been able to do much.

"For the last five years we couldn't have long-range plans because we couldn't get enough funds," Moore said. "With this new bill we won't have to worry about that and should be able to make plans."

At one point, all of the country's more than 150 communities on EAS were in danger of losing service and one of the last was the Morgantown Municipal Airport in Morgantown. This is because the original bill had Congress writing off the entire EAS program and would not provide funds or service for any airport in the country.

The city-run airport is within a 90-mile radius from Pittsburgh International Airport in Pittsburgh, Pa., which is a mid-size hub; the original bill would end Morgantown's EAS service.

Morgantown is the most highly enplaned airport in West Virginia with about 21,000 passengers a year. If its EAS service, which is federally subsidized commercial air service, would have ended Morgantown would have lost about $1.5 million in funds annually, according to Rockefeller.

The airport was saved by changing its mileage caveat to a hub from 90 to 170 miles.

"It is a good thing for many airports that Rockefeller fights so hard for us," Moore said. "Without his work, we'd likely not have the service we do.

"There are expected to be a couple of cuts, but we aren't expected to see any changes and will keep service and things running as they do now," Moore said.


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