By Jenna Pizzi/The Times of Trenton
on April 23, 2013 at 7:45 AM
Frontier Airlines would loan the county $450,000 for improvements to the passenger terminal at Trenton-Mercer Airport, under a proposal the county freeholders will consider this week.
Additional plans include construction of a $3 million parking facility, and $200,000 for improvements to the airport’s taxiways, roads and ramps. Those items are included in a draft ordinance that the freeholders would have to approved.
Frontier, the airport’s only passenger airline, would fund about $450,000 in fixes to the terminal and in exchange the county would give Frontier a 50 percent discount on passenger facility charges to use the airport, until the loan is repaid, according to a memorandum of understanding drafted by County Executive Brian Hughes.
If approved, the money would be used to add rest rooms in the passenger holding area, where there are none currently, as well as improve the layout of the terminal, said county spokeswoman Julie Willmot.
“This investment by Frontier indicates the airline’s commitment to Trenton-Mercer Airport,” Willmot said.
County officials said since Frontier began expanding the number of flights offered from the Ewing airport from two flights per week to approximately five flights per day, there have been some capacity issues that have come up.
County officials said the terminal and parking lot are very crowded when there are passengers coming off a flight while others are waiting to board the plane.
Asked why the county was taking a zero-interest loan from Frontier, rather than funding the project in house, officials said it would be faster to have the airline front the money.
The board will discuss the proposal from the administration at their meeting tonight and vote on it at another meeting on Thursday.
The freeholders will consider selling bonds to fund various other projects at the airport, including adding another parking facility.
Included in the draft ordinance, is $3 million in bonded funds for the construction of a parking facility at the airport. The county would have a $150,000 down payment for that project and pay back the remainder over 15 years.
The county recently finished a new parking lot at the airport, but officials said it is not enough to handle the number of people accessing the airport. It is currently free to park at the airport, but officials said if the county invests more money to add more parking spots, they may have to institute a parking fee.