Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fort Leonard Wood, Springfield-Branson airports announce partnership

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -  Waynesville-St.Robert Regional Airport on Fort Leonard Wood and Springfield-Branson National Airport will partner for emergency readiness. The two parties have signed a formalized agreement.

"The Memorandum of Understanding came about because of the continuous use of the airfield and then the activation of the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade on quick-response missions. This gave them the ability to deploy much quicker," said Darlene Battle, Installation Transportation officer.

The MOU between the two parties explains the relationship between the post and airport during emergencies or drills where the military would need to use the airport's facilities.

In the event of a natural disaster, the military is charged with flying relief supplies to the state.

"In the years since 2001, emergency planning has taken on greater importance at every level of government: local, state and national. One of the biggest challenges in emergency planning is making sure that everyone - meaning all the responding agencies - knows what to expect from each other," said Kent Boyd, spokesman for Springfield-Branson National Airport.

Some of the support elements highlighted in the agreement include ensuring fuel is available, setting guidelines so airport staff and security are aware of the weapons and ammunition that may accompany military personnel on their flights and providing space for a maximum of two aircraft on the tarmac.

In addition to the terms outlined in the agreement, the MOU also provides secondary benefits to military personnel.

"Utilizing Springfield significantly decreases the amount of travel time for our military when moving by air," Battle said. "This means more Family time prior to departure and quicker return times."


Obituary: John Edward Jacobs

John Edward Jacobs

John Edward Jacobs, resident of Ponca City, passed away on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at his residence. He was 67.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m., July 21, 2014, at the Trout Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Mike Smith officiating. Arrangements are under the direction of Trout Funeral Home & Crematory.

John was born on Dec. 31, 1946, to George and Marie Perkinson Jacobs in Wilkinsburg, Penn. John joined the U.S Air Force at a young age and was stationed in Sacramento, Calif. He was an active member of the McClellan Air Force Base Aero Club. He became a licensed pilot during his stay in Sacramento. He attended Sacramento State and got a B.S. in Business Administration.

Upon completion of his military career, he enrolled in Air Traffic Control School in Oklahoma City. Completing his schooling and relocating to Virginia, he was employed at Dulles International Airport as air traffic controller. That is also when he married his wife, Peggy Elenburg, on May 20, 1977, in Leeburg, Va.

In 1982, John and Peggy moved back to Oklahoma. Settling in Stillwater, they started their vending business, Jacobs Distributing, in 1984. In 1990 the couple expanded their business and moved to Ponca City. John’s health forced him into retirement in 2012.

John was the proud owner of a Piper Cherokee 140. John was a volunteer pilot for the Young Eagles EAA Experimental Aircraft Association. He volunteered and participated in the Oshkosh AirVenture. He was an active member of the Ponca City Tippers Club and Lions Club.

John received two single lung transplants in 2013 and had just celebrated his one year transplant anniversary in May. The family wishes to thank all of the great doctors, nurses and staff at Integris Baptist Medical Center Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Institute. They are especially grateful to the team members of 701 ICU as well as the families and donors of the two lungs John received.

John is survived by his wife, Peggy, of Ponca City; daughters, Melissa Jacobs of Oklahoma City, and Katie Quillin of Tulsa; son, Michael Jacobs of Oklahoma City; and six grandchildren. Julien and Luella Gray, Finn and Poppy Quillin, and Jaiden and Bailey Morris.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Memorial donations may be made to Hope Transplant Support Organization, 3225 SW 100 St., Oklahoma City, OK 73159.


John Edward Jacobs

Airport authority applies for runway funding in Clark County, Indiana: FAA grants will determine amount of work that gets done - Clark Regional Airport (KJVY), Jeffersonville

SELLERSBURG — Who will be awarded the contract for the next phase of work on the runway expansion project at the Clark County Regional Airport? It depends on how much federal funding is awarded for the endeavor.

The South Central Regional Airport Authority opened bids for the work last week, which will primarily entail the excavation of about 200,000 cubic yards of dirt to make way for 1,500 feet of new runway.

But the contract for the work has yet to be awarded.

Instead, the SCRAA used the numbers it received in the bids to write a grant application to the Federal Aviation Administration. The SCRAA board is optimistic, said President Tom Galligan.

“Whether we get the full amount we’re requesting or what part we get determines what we get done,” Galligan said. “We’re hoping we get enough to do all of it.”

The excavation project included a base package and two additional components, explained Mike Harris, engineer with Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz, the firm contracted by the SCRAA. The base package included the bulk of the excavation work, while the first additive was for the removal of the structure that houses the airport’s navigational beacon, or navaid, from its current location and the second additive is for the installation of the new navaid, he said.

If the FAA awards enough money to do the whole project, E&B Paving will be awarded the contract with a low bid of about $2.5 million. If there’s only enough money to pay for the base bid package or the base and the first additive, the contract will be awarded to Crider & Crider, as it submitted low bids of $1.84 million and $1.96 million, respectively.

The SCRAA should have an answer from the FAA by Sept. 1, said SCRAA attorney Greg Fifer, and a contract could be awarded soon after the FAA responds to the grant request.

The period in which the navaid is removed but not yet reconstructed will impact some flights, but won’t shut down the airport, Harris said.

“It limits the weather conditions that you can fly in and out of,” Harris said. “That’s probably the biggest thing.”

The work will take up to six months to complete after a contract is awarded, Harris said.

The paving contract for the runway will be awarded next year, Galligan said.

“What we don’t get done this year, we’re going to get done next year,” Galligan said.


Ontario aviation fuel tax hike will put province at disadvantage: industry

MONTREAL - At a time when other provinces are moving to encourage airline traffic by decreasing or eliminating aviation fuel taxes, Ontario's decision to hike them will likely boost air fares and put the province at a competitive disadvantage, airline and airport officials say.

In a budget tabled last week by Ontario's newly elected Liberal government, Premier Kathleen Wynne has proposed to phase in a four-cent-per-litre increase in the aviation fuel tax to 6.7 cents by 2017. The current tax of 2.7 cents per litre has been in place for more than two decades, but would rise by one cent per litre each year.

The increase, which the government has pledged as part of $29 billion it has dedicated to transit and transportation infrastructure uprgrades in the next decade, is expected to add an estimated $100 million in costs for airlines — cost that will likely be passed on to consumers through higher fares.

"It will cause the ticket prices to go up but you might not notice it because it's a small portion...of the fuel bill," said David Tyerman of Canaccord Genuity.

For Air Canada, the estimated $50 million in addition costs represents a fraction of the more than $11 billion it spends annually on fuel, salaries, currency fluctuations and other factors, said Tyerman.

Airlines constantly adjust prices for cost increases and declines, but unlike fuel prices and currency fluctuations that can change rapidly, this tax increase is predictable and will be easier to plan for in advance, the analyst added.

However, the association that represents Canada's largest air carriers said the tax increase will put Ontario at a disadvantage.

"I suspect maybe other provinces feel they are more competitive now," said Marc-Andre O'Rourke, executive director of the National Airlines Council of Canada.

He said Ontario's rate would be "completely out of whack" with other provinces and would be one of the highest fuel taxes in North America. The association is calling for the increase to be put on hold while the implications are studied.

British Columbia became the latest province to eliminate its international fuel tax in 2012, joining New Brunswick, Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Newfoundland and Labrador has no fuel tax for international flights but charges tax for flights to the United States. Manitoba has the highest rate at 3.2 cents, but nothing for U.S. and international cargo flights.

B.C.'s move to eliminate the fuel tax to match nearby jurisdictions in Alberta, Washington state and California cost the government $12 million in annual revenue. But a report said it generated an estimated $20 million in new payroll and consumption tax revenue in the first year resulting from expanded international flights into the province, said Elizabeth Thomson, public affairs officer for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

While some provinces have eliminated fuel taxes on international flights, they all charge for domestic flights, ranging from 0.7 to 3.2 cents per litre. At 6.7 cents, Ontario would be more than double its provincial neighbours. Most U.S. airports charge little or no fuel taxes.

O'Rourke said the province may not receive the full benefit from the tax increase because airlines may decide to fuel at airports outside Ontario to save money.

Douglas Hartmayer, director of public affairs for the operator of airports in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, N.Y., sees the tax boosting business on his side of the border.

"I think that anything that widens the gap and makes it more expensive to fly from Canada vis-a-vis Buffalo is going to drive more people to airports in the United States," Hartmayer said.

More than 2.3 million Canadians a year are believed to use the Buffalo airport, a two-hour drive from Toronto's Pearson International Airport, Canada's busiest travel hub.

Most of the cost difference between Canadian and U.S. airfares is attributable to federal tax, fees and surcharges, said Susie Heath, press secretary for Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa. She said Ontario's fuel tax is significantly lower than what is charged at airports such as London Heathrow and Paris de Gaulle.

"We know that these changes affect different communities in different ways, which is why we're working with the Ministry of Transportation to ensure that we are providing relief to vulnerable communities, especially those in remote and northern areas."

A study led by Fred Lazar, associate economics professor at York University's Schulich School of Business, concluded the tax hike will hurt the provincial economy, cut jobs and drive away tourists.

He said the provincial GDP would fall between $67 and $97 million in 2017, resulting in a decrease in up to 2,907 full-time jobs and discourage at least 292,000 air travelers.

Lazar calculates the tax will increase air fares between $1.25 to $12 per ticket depending on airport and destination.

That would hamper Air Canada's efforts to make Toronto's Pearson Airport a North American gateway and hurt the smaller airline, Porter Airlines, which uses Billy Bishop Toronto Centre Airport as its network hub.


Funds a boost for Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport (KBWG), Bowling Green, Kentucky

Our Opinion

As Kentucky’s third-largest city, Bowling Green deserves a chance to be in the running to try to get a commercial airline.

For years, Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport, local and state officials have worked tirelessly to get a commercial airline here. Given the size of our city and surrounding counties, we believe an airline service would succeed here.

Chances of that happening got a lot better Thursday when it was announced the airport would get $750,000 from the state to aid in attracting a commercial air service.

The money has been committed to the airport in the second year of the biennium to be part of an incentive package to attract an airline into an unproven Bowling Green market.

With this money, the airport will be able to present a $2 million incentive package to airlines to encourage them to come to the airport.

Having this money will allow the airport to be much more competitive in its recruitment of airlines.

The money is expected to be available by July 15, 2015, which will give the airport time to speak with airlines and begin the planning process for bringing in service. The airport will look for a service connecting to Chicago or Atlanta.

Having a commercial air service in our city would be convenient. About 700,000 people annually travel to the Nashville airport to fly from the 10-county area. Some of those air travelers more than likely would fly out of our airport if we had a commercial service rather than driving an hour to Nashville to catch a plane.

Think of the large amounts of funds we lose to cities such as Nashville because we don’t have commercial service. If we do get that service, a significant amount of that money would stay right here.

That would be great for our local and state economy.

Earlier this year, we were disappointed that Gov. Steve Beshear decided to veto this money that was set aside in the transportation budget by the General Assembly.

Beshear took the appropriate action by releasing these funds.

It’s exciting to know that we now have this extra advantage with this funding to try to lure a commercial airline. We wish all involved in recruitment the best of luck and look forward to hearing news of a commercial airline contract in the near future.

Source: Opinion

Leesville City Council delays planned airport improvements: Leesville Airport (L39), Louisiana

City officials were forced to delay improvements to Leesville’s municipal airport on Monday after bids came in more than what engineers had estimated for the project.

During the City Council meeting, city officials heard competing bids to clear a hill at the Leesville Municipal Airport. Three bids were opened during the meeting with the lowest coming from Apeck Construction at $676,374, more than $71,000 over Leesville’s projected price. The project was estimated to cost $605,000.

The project, explained Leesville Mayor Rick Allen, will involve removing a hill near the safe landing and takeoff zone.

“The ground has to be level with the airport or below,” he said. “There cannot be a hill of any kind for so many feet outside the airport. And unfortunately, our airport was dug into the side of a hill.”

The project would remove the hill, he said, and fill in a hole at the end of the runway. It would take approximately three months to see its completion.

The project will be paid for with grants from the state Department of Transportation Development and Federal Aviation Administration, according to Kyle Randall, a senior project manager with Pan American Engineers, who is overseeing the project. He said Pan American Engineers would seek additional funding to make up the difference between the low bid and the amount of funding currently secured for the municipal airport.

Allen said he was unsure of the difference between where the city was in securing grants versus how much the project will actually cost. If engineers are unable to seek additional funding, Allen said he would work to reduce the cost of the project so it could move forward.

Upon completion of the project, Allen said the city would be seeking funding to try and extend the runway in the hopes of one day having a functioning regional airport that could host larger aircraft. Currently the airport serves small private planes only.

“This is a step forward to where we want to be with the airport,” Allen said.

No date has been set for when bids will come back for the council’s review.


Private Jet Recovery From Recession an Uneven Ride

Private jet sales are rising again, climbing out of a deep recession when the company plane was an easy target for spending cuts.

The chief executive of General Dynamics Corp., maker of Gulfstream jets, says corporate customers are back and wealth creation is bringing out shoppers for private jets. The president of jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney says deliveries for private planes are growing after hitting bottom in 2011.

The improving market has not been universal. Signs of strength have been in large-cabin planes, while sales of small and mid-sized planes stall.

Credit markets also have not fully recovered, making it harder to finance some private-plane purchases.

Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace consultant, compared the industry's uneven improvement with the bumpy economic recovery.

"In its own very high-end way, it mirrors what's going on," he said. "It's the haves and the have-nots, but it's all haves."

General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic told investor analysts in May that corporate customers have returned and "the world has experienced enormous wealth creation," with the rich shopping for planes.

Pratt & Whitney Canada, a business jet engine manufacturer that laid off more than 400 workers in 2009 and 2010 — about 4.5 percent of its workforce — has a "very solid pipeline of products," President Paul Adams told reporters in May. The subsidiary of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. has "steady growth in product deliveries," he said.

Improvements in the top part of the business — jets costing $26 million or more — have driven the market's recovery, he said. Total business jet deliveries were valued at $20.9 billion in 2013, compared with a peak of $24.7 billion in 2008, Aboulafia said. The industry hit bottom at $18 billion in deliveries in 2012, he said.

Shipments of business jets peaked at 1,313 in 2008 and tumbled to 672 in 2012, a 48 percent drop, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. The number rose in 2013 by a tiny 0.9 percent, but it was the first time in five years that shipments had increased from one year to the next.

The business jet became a symbol of corporate excess when Detroit auto executives flew to Washington seeking bailout money. And Citigroup, which downplayed the risks of subprime mortgages, was pressured by the White House to cancel the planned delivery of a jet.

Aboulafia said in a report in April that even in the recession, sales rose 0.3 percent for the top half of the private jet market. The bottom half, which accounts for jets costing $4 million to $26 million, fell nearly 56 percent, "one of the worst market cataclysms to ever impact any mature industry segment," he said.

The poor performance of small and mid-sized business jet purchases are partly due to tight credit, while larger jet purchases are more likely to be self-financed, he said.

Edward Jones analyst Christian Mayes also cited as a reason a glut of smaller planes that were manufactured.

Industry details drawing distinctions between business purchases and those by the rich are not available. However, one reason financing is not as big of a challenge for large jets is that "some big celebrities still buy multimillion-dollar jets no matter what because they want to get from point A to B as fast as possible," Mayes said.

Steve Varsano, founder of The Jet Business, a London-based seller of private planes, credited a boost in international business travel.

Business planes also are increasingly used by mid-level managers, not just chief executives, he said. As airport security requirements snarl air travel, businesses save money by cutting travel time with private jets available on demand, he said.

"It's a time machine," Varsano said. "You're running a multibillion-dollar company, and time is money."


Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport (KGFL), Queensbury, Warren County, New York

Harassment complaint filed following encounter with critic about extending runway at county airport 

QUEENSBURY — Warren County Airport’s manager filed a harassment complaint Thursday against a critic of Warren County’s proposal to extend the main runway at the county airport after the two had words Thursday at the airport.

The encounter occurred after the critic, Travis Whitehead, said he overheard a phone conversation in which the airport manager, Ross Dubarry, plotted to come up with an excuse to not meet with Whitehead and Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Mark Westcott.

“He said, ‘If they show up here, I’m going to say I have a meeting I’m late for and leave,’ ” Whitehead said.

Whitehead said he believed Dubarry was talking to county Public Works Commissioner Jeff Tennyson. He said he confronted Dubarry when the phone conversation ended.

“I told him what I thought about that,” Whitehead said, adding that he called Dubarry a “sorry son of a bitch.”

Whitehead said airport staff sent him to Dubarry’s second-floor office at the airport building, and he could not help but hear the conversation as he approached the office.

Whitehead said the county has stonewalled he and Westcott for weeks as they sought information about the runway extension project.

Westcott said he arrived for the tail end of the encounter.

Whitehead said he was visited at his home by two county sheriff’s officers later Thursday. He said there was no difference in the account both he and Dubarry gave police.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office interviewed the people involved, and Sheriff Bud York said it was determined that the law was not broken.

“We got a complaint and we looked into it,” York said. “We consulted with District Attorney Kate Hogan and concluded the harassment and dis con (disorderly conduct) statutes don’t fit.”

Dubarry and Tennyson said they had no comment on the matter Friday.

County Administrator Paul Dusek said “Ross was concerned about the encounter,” and said county officials planned to investigate what happened.

“We will examine the situation and be professional in whatever our response is,” he said.

Westcott defended Whitehead, saying he is “passionate about getting things right.”

“This is a good man who is trying to do right for the citizens of Warren County,” he said.

Story and Comments: 

May 02, 2014 • Schermerhorn plans new restaurant for Warren County airport

QUEENSBURY - The local developer who serves as fixed base operator for Warren County airport is going ahead with plans to build a new restaurant.

Rich Schermerhorn, owner of Rich Air, plans to build the new eatery in a separate building that would be located to the southeast of the terminal.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors Facilities Committee has given conceptual approval for it, and Schermerhorn notified the committee this week that he planned to go ahead with the project in the coming months.

No timetable was released.

The cafe that is located in the terminal, known as Carol’s Airport Cafe, would be converted into office space.

The new building will result in a more modern, expanded restaurant, Schermerhorn said.

“There are more people who want to eat than we have seating for,” Schermerhorn said.

The restaurant would be about 2,500 square feet. Schermerhorn said it would cost about $325,000 to build.

Schermerhorn provided supervisors with a sketch Tuesday that showed the proposed building.

It would have 14 tables for diners and 12 large windows to allow them to look out over the airfield.

“I always try to make sure my properties shine and look good and this will be no different,” he said.

Carol Twiss, operator of Carol’s Airport Cafe, would be given right of first refusal to operate the restaurant. She said last year she planned to run it.

Schermerhorn recently completed two new hangars for planes at the airport, and he said 17 of the 19 spots are already spoken for.

Story and Comments:

March 04, 2014 • Bid to delay airport project doesn't fly

QUEENSBURY -- Warren County supervisors on Tuesday rejected a request to hold off on spending more than $1 million to buy land and easements around Warren County Airport.

The Board of Supervisors’ Facility Committee voted unanimously to continue with the project instead of shortening the airport’s auxiliary runway or suing to enforce decades-old easements

Shortening the runway would have eliminated the need for the land and easements.

The decision came after a contentious, hourlong discussion that pitted a group of local pilots and project supporters against a group of supervisors and residents who have asked that alternatives to the $1.04 million property and easement purchases be given a closer look. All but 5 percent of the project would be paid by state or federal grants.

The alternatives have been proposed by Queensbury at-Large supervisors Mark Westcott and Doug Beaty and Queensbury resident Travis Whitehead, who are members of a group that has questioned the need to buy property and easements when less expensive options are available.

“This really is about options. I don’t think we’ve vetted all the options correctly,” Whitehead said.

One alternative is shortening the 4,000-foot-long runway to do away with the need for easements and more land for the “runway protection zone.”

The group questioned why the county has agreed to pay Ronald Chartrand $855,000 for a 53-acre parcel assessed at $102,000 when Chartrand recently bought 20 acres of nearby land from the county for $40,000. Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe called that a “huge discrepancy.” Chartrand had opted not to sell the county an avigation easement but to require a full purchase.

But the land Chartrand bought was landlocked by his property and not as developable as the land he has agreed to sell the county. County Attorney Martin Auffredou said the FAA approved the appraisal.

Beaty pointed out some of the land is in Kingsbury, which would put the county in the position of losing property from its tax rolls and having to pay Washington County taxes on the land instead.

Auffredou said the county could subdivide the land and sell portions of it, outside the runway protection zone, for development.

Some questioned why the county had not pursued eminent domain proceedings to acquire Chartrand’s property, but county officials said that was viewed as a last resort.

Shortening the auxiliary runway, which is generally used only when strong winds come out of the northwest, did not sit well with pilots in attendance.

Pilot Harrison Freer said the FAA could place restrictions on pilots, while pilot Dave Alexander said the bad conditions under which that runway is usually used require the full length of pavement.

“I don’t see shortening Runway 30 as an option,” he said. “If you’ve got windy conditions, you want as much runway as you can have.”

Freer accused opponents of the project of using “inaccurate and misleading” information to make their case.

The county bought avigation easements over the property in the 1940s, which prompted discussion over whether litigation to enforce those easements was possible. But the map detailing those easements has long been lost.

“Absent those maps, the chances of success are greatly diminished,” Auffredou said.

Monroe asked that the vote to continue on the path to property and easement purchases be tabled because Westcott was not present for the meeting. But his request was not seconded.

Monroe and committee members Evelyn Wood, Thurman’s supervisor, and John Strough, Queensbury’s supervisor, voted to go ahead with the project.

Westcott said he had a previously scheduled business trip so he could not attend the meeting.

“We’re not trying to railroad this through. We just want the county to take a closer look at it,” he said.

Westcott and his supporters have planned a public meeting on the issue March 12 at Crandall Public Library, starting at 6 p.m.

Story and Comments:

November 23, 2013 10:34 pm • Company leaders express necessity of Warren County airport for clients, to conduct business 
QUEENSBURY — If it weren’t for Warren County airport, Tom Cahill’s nearby business would be somewhere else.

Cahill, whose Cessna 310 is based at the airport, frequently uses his plane to visit clients of his manufacturing business, Melvina Can Machinery, who are scattered throughout the Northeast and beyond.

“If it wasn’t here, I would flat out leave,” Cahill said of the airport. “It’s a tool I’ve always used in my business.”

From Cahill’s small manufacturing operation to some of the region’s largest employers, in single-engine Cessnas and small jets, local companies are using the county-owned airport to conduct business.

But a proposed runway expansion remains controversial in Warren County, with opponents questioning whether the benefits to taxpayers outweigh the cost. Cahill and other airport users take issue with arguments that the airport benefits only a small, wealthy segment of the population.

The airport is an amenity local economic development groups point to when they market the region, and it was one of the reasons Hacker Boat Co. is relocating from Ticonderoga to Queensbury Business Park, just south of the airport, company officials said.

“One of the first questions we have is, ‘Where is the nearest airport?’” said Ken Rawley, Hacker’s director of sales and marketing.

Hacker officials hope to break ground on their new Queensbury plant during the first quarter of 2014.

“It was a factor for us,” Hacker CEO George Badcock said of the airport. “Probably 70 percent come that way, and with larger boats, custom boat-building and now with building for yacht vendors, we do see that increasing.”

Over the next several years, as Hacker expands its product lines and puts additional focus on overseas markets, production of the luxury boats will increase and the company’s employment is expected to nearly double, from 45 to 80 employees.

“That’s a perfect, concrete example of what the benefits are of having that airport,” said Glens Falls 3rd Ward Supervisor Harold “Bud” Taylor, who also chairs the Warren-Washington Counties Industrial Development Agency board.

Come fly to us

The airport property is flanked by the Warren-Washington Counties Industrial Development Agency’s Airport Industrial Park, and the Queensbury Business Park, where Hacker will go.

When Warren County Economic Development Corp. markets the county as a place to locate businesses, features like proximity to the airport and the Northway are played up. Ed Bartholomew, who took over earlier this year as president of the EDC, sees the airport as integral to a strategy of promoting the area to businesses.

“I strongly believe the airport is an economic plus for the area,” he said. “It’s serving existing businesses and industries and it’s an attraction tool.”

EDC is the developer of the Queensbury Business Park. In the corporation’s brochure promoting the business park, proximity to the airport is played up, along with the park’s infrastructure and Empire Zone benefits.

Business owners consider numerous factors when deciding where to locate their operations, and a nearby airport is one of the variables that can tip the scales.

Business leaders of companies already here use the airport to fly to corporate headquarters located elsewhere, fly clients in and ship materials. International Paper, Finch Paper, Irving Tissue, General Electric, Nibco, Aetna Insurance and Travelers have been among the airport’s regular users, officials said.

Target representatives fly into the airport occasionally; visiting elected officials fly in; and during the summer months, Sagamore Resort guests and Saratoga Race Course visitors use the airport.

“I knew about tourism, but I was surprised what industry was lending to it,” said Dan Girard, chairman of the Warren County Facilities Committee, which oversees airport operations.

For some smaller business owners like Cahill and Queensbury-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rich Saunders, the ability to fly to work means the ability to expand their businesses and cut back on the hours they’d otherwise spend driving.

Cahill’s company builds new can machinery and rebuilds used machinery. The machines can cost more than $100,000 — so meeting clients in person, taking them out to lunch and earning their trust can make or break a sale. For years, Cahill had another plant on Long Island, and he’d fly between here and there before moving the company to Queensbury full-time five years ago, he said.

“That’s been my Volkswagen Beetle going back and forth for years,” Cahill said. “I use that as my commuting tool.”

Sometimes he goes on a “tour,” visiting 10 customers that are within 200 miles of one another in one trip. A single-stop trip that would be 14 hours in a car becomes three hours when he travels by air. He may fly out to pick customers up and bring them back to his plant to see a machine, or fly somewhere to look at a used machine, he said.

Dr. Saunders co-owns a medical practice with five primary treatment offices split among Warren, Washington and Essex counties. But when he started an independent medical examination company as well, offices popped up in Utica, Plattsburgh and Newburgh. He has been flying six to eight days a month to one of those locations, booking an entire day of clients when he’s there.

Saunders began flying five years ago, obtaining a pilot’s license primarily as a way to get to work. The Newburgh office is completely aviation-dependent — Saunders wouldn’t have opened it if he didn’t fly, he said.

“It’s much easier for me to fly myself,” he said. “It’s superb for the type of aviation I do.”

The public can’t fly

The runway expansion at Warren County airport has been a hot-button issue, and played a defining role in this year’s election. Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Mark Westcott, who founded the group Upstate New York Taxpayers Advocates, leads the opposition to the expansion and questions how beneficial it would be, when weighed against its cost.

A 2010 state Department of Transportation report indicates the annual economic impact of the local airport at about $8.4 million, a finding opponents have also questioned.

The county qualified for $8 million in Federal Aviation Administration funds, with a $400,000 county match, for the 1,000-foot expansion of the main runway. Supporters argue it’s a good investment, especially with most of the money coming from the federal government. But opponents say it’s all taxpayer money, and the airport at its current size could be run at a lower cost than a larger one.

Earlier this year, the Warren County Board of Supervisors voted to create an airport advisory committee, which is charged with finding ways to better market the airport. Bartholomew sees that as “a positive,” and said EDC will be part of it.

Warren County airport has about 50 aircraft based there currently, a number soon expected to grow to meet demand. The planes are predominately single- and twin-engine aircraft and turboprops, with a few jets, Airport Manager Ross Dubarry said.

One line of new hangars has been constructed, and as of Friday, airport officials were waiting only for the power to be turned on. Another line of hangars is coming, because the airport’s fixed-base operator, Rich Air, has a waiting list of aircraft owners who want space, Dubarry said.

Officials said earlier this year that Rich Air, headed by local developer Richard Schermerhorn, spent more than $1 million on renovations at the airport, including construction of the new hangar building.

Flights from the airport are used to get to business meetings, for shipping cargo, for pleasure and recreation and for police and medical purposes. Generally, the base aircraft are used for business or recreation or a combination of the two, Dubarry said.

But the 72-year-old local airport hasn’t been used for commercial service in years. When airlines were deregulated in the 1970s, it essentially gave airlines the ability to determine which markets to serve.

The Essential Air Service program was then put in place by the federal government, subsidizing some commercial flights to larger hubs to ensure smaller communities were still being served. Warren County was transitioning between carriers at the time the program was put into place, and got left out, Dubarry said.

The Northway was completed at about the same time.

Expansions at other county-owned airports in upstate New York within the past decade resulted in commercial service being offered from them to air travel hubs.

The Jefferson County-owned and operated Watertown International Airport in recent years underwent runway and passenger terminal expansions, and American Eagle Airlines last year began direct service from Watertown to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, where travelers can catch flights to destinations worldwide. That corner of the North Country has seen a development boom from Fort Drum.

Both Watertown and Plattsburgh International Airport are close to the northern border, and Canadian travelers are part of those markets. Allegiant Air operates flights from Plattsburgh International Airport to Las Vegas and several locations in Florida. There is also direct service from Plattsburgh to Myrtle Beach and Boston.

The demand for commercial service is driven by local demographics, and without the guarantee of a federal subsidy, it seems unlikely air carriers would be willing to compete with Albany International Airport by flying out of Warren County, Dubarry said.

“But you never know what the future holds,” he said.

Story and Comments:

July 19, 2013 • County leaders wonder about Warren County airport grant payback 

QUEENSBURY -- Town Supervisor Ron Montesi wants a determination whether Warren County would have to repay about $800,000 in grant funding if the county halts its plan to expand the runway at Warren County airport.

“It’s an important consideration,” he said.

Queensbury at-large Supervisor Mark Westcott, a leader of a taxpayer group opposed to expanding the airport, said the county should not move forward, even if it does have to return the money, some of which has already been spent.

“I had a good professor (at Duke University) who said, ‘Don’t throw good money after bad,’” he said, at a Board of Supervisors meeting on Friday.

Later in the meeting, the board voted 17-2, with one supervisor absent, on two resolutions associated with the runway expansion.

The board authorized applying for up to $1.11 million in Federal Aviation Administration and state Department of Transportation grant funding to buy land and aviation easements for the runway approach.

The board also authorized applying, separately, for up to $1.15 million in FAA and DOT grant funding to remove about 70 acres of trees in the runway approach, install three obstruction light towers, and landscape a buffer area along Queensbury Avenue.

The grants have local matching fund requirements of $55,500 and $57,500 respectively.

Westcott and Johnsburg Supervisor Ron Vanselow voted against both resolutions.

The remaining 17 supervisors present voted in favor. Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino was absent at that point in the meeting.

Upstate New York Taxpayer Advocates, a local political advocacy group on fiscal issues, has been pushing to halt the runway expansion.

Critics have questioned the cost and need for the expansion, and said increased air traffic might be disturbing.

Supporters of expanding the runway have said it will help attract new employers and retain existing ones.

Montesi asked that county Administrator Paul Dusek, County Attorney Martin Auffredou and county Department of Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson determine whether the county would have to pay back grant money already received, if the county halts the project.

Dusek said the county has spent $380,000 in federal grant funding on the project so far, and has received another $423,000 in grant funding that the county has committed to spend, but has not yet actually spent.

Story and Comments:

June 20, 2013  • Warren County Airport 'fixed base operator' contract becoming controversial 

 Warren County supervisors on the county board's Facilities Committee held off approving a new five-year contract with the county airport's fixed base operator Rich Air earlier this month.

It sounds, though, like the issue will be presented for the full county board's possible approval at Friday's (6/21) meeting.The county has been seeking an extension of 8 months to more fully review the terms of the lease, but Rich Air has not been in favor of the shorter agreement.

The Upstate New York Taxpayers Advocates has asked county supervisors to consider terms of a new contract that will be "more beneficial to Warren County taxpayers."

-- Don Lehman


March 02, 2013 • Airport talk gets heated at Warren County committee meeting 

The debate over escalating costs to operate Warren County airport took an ugly turn Thursday when one county supervisor tore into a colleague as he discussed efforts to cut airport costs.

The confrontation occurred as Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Mark Westcott discussed his thoughts on bringing pilots who use the airport into the discussion on how to rein in costs at the facility.

Westcott has continually questioned increased spending at the airport, which is significantly higher than many other municipal airports in upstate New York, as well as a proposal to lengthen the airport’s main runway at an estimated $8 million.

Glens Falls 1st Ward Supervisor Dan Girard, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors Facilities Committee that oversees the airport, cut off Westcott and would not allow him to continue the debate.

Girard said county leaders are reviewing the airport budget and cuts are being considered.

“Unbelievably, Mark, there are other people working on this other than yourself,” Girard told Westcott.

He went on to accuse Westcott of starting a “filibuster” on the issue and accused him of “wasting a lot of people’s time.” He said Westcott was “wanting data to support your (proposed) $400,000 cut.”

“You don’t want me to comment more?” Westcott asked.

“I want to move on so we can comment on other things,” Girard responded.

Most supervisors seemed stunned by the exchange and there was little comment afterward, though Glens Falls Ward Supervisor Bud Taylor seemed to take a shot at Westcott, saying “we’re eating ourselves here” and adding “Election time is coming, I don’t know if that’s a reason” for the strife.

Westcott said his efforts had nothing to do with re-election, pointing out he began asking questions about the airport last year.

The committee also heard from Airport Manager Ross Dubarry about a response he prepared to a Post-Star article and editorial in the fall that questioned airport spending.

Dubarry tried to compare detailed spending breakdowns between airports in the region that have lower costs than Warren County, and distributed a spreadsheet with pie charts and dozens of figures

Dubarry couldn’t get actual figures for many of the airports, so he substituted Warren County’s costs in certain categories for those at other airports for which he couldn’t get numbers, even though staffing numbers apparently differ significantly.

So for instance, he concluded Fulton County airport, which spent $12,000 in employee salaries in the unspecified year he surveyed, had the same overtime costs as Warren County ($47,000) despite the fact Warren County had $233,019 in salaries. He also included the same retirement and hospitalization costs as Warren County, despite the fact Fulton County and the other airports he included had much lower salary expenses.

Warren County Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson said the survey showed it is very difficult to compare airport operation costs because of the way budgets are structured.

Westcott, though, said the county survey reinforced to him Warren County’s airport spending was higher than other counties, even with estimates for costs that weren’t included.

“The real issue at this point is why are we spending over $1 million a year on this facility?” Westcott asked after the meeting. “Since the airport budget was brought up in the meeting today by Ross and Jeff Tennyson, I felt it was fair to ask this question. I was surprised at how vehement and negative the response was after doing so.”

Story and Comments:

February 28, 2013 - New restaurant proposed at Warren County Airport

Rich Air, the company that serves as the fixed base operator for Warren County Airport, is proposing two new buildings at the airport to house a restaurant and additional offices.

The proposal is to be discussed at a county Facilities Committee meeting Thursday.

The restaurant would be six times the size of the cafe that operates at the airport, said Jon Lapper, a lawyer for Rich Air. It would be located next to the terminal.

It would be open into the evening, while the cafe on the property is open only mornings and afternoons. Lapper said what type of restaurant it will be is to be determined.

The office building would be next to Hangar 2 on the airport property.

Lapper said that Carol's Airport Cafe would be closed and turned into a lounge or office space, and the proprietors would be given the opportunity to run the new restaurant.

-- Don Lehman


August 03, 2012 • Questions raised over paving payment at Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport (KGFL), Glens Falls, New York 

QUEENSBURY -- The owner of a local aircraft manufacturer is questioning why Warren County is shelling out $182,000 to pave an approach to a private airport hangar when the county was going to require he pay paving costs when he proposed a similar project.

Chris Hatin, owner of Bushwhacker Aircraft Company LLC, said he would like to know why the county is paying for the pavement of an aircraft taxiway to a new hangar for Rich Air, which is the fixed base operator for the airport.

“That’s local taxpayer funding being spent on a private project for private financial gain,” Hatin said.

When Hatin was negotiating to put a hangar at the airport in 2010 for his company and a local helicopter business, they were told they would have to pay paving costs for the approach to the hangar, he said.

So he said he was surprised to learn that the county was instead paying paving costs to connect Rich Air’s new hangar.

Ross Dubarry, the airport’s manager, said the county is applying for a federal grant for the paving, but Hatin responded, “It’s still taxpayer money.”

Hatin and business partner Bruce Mowery instead purchased Harris Airfield in Fort Ann for their businesses. He was among a group of pilots and airport users who had opposed Rich Air being chosen as the fixed base operator in 2008, instead supporting the company that was forced out, Empire East Aviation.

Hatin said the deal that Rich Air, operated by local developer Rich Schermerhorn, was given when he received permission to build new hangars involved taxpayer money being spent when the one he proposed did not.

Hatin said he is also wondering why the county is also footing the bill for runway lights on the approach to the new hangar.

Jeff Tennyson, Warren County’s public works superintendent, whose agency oversees the airport, said the county was not legally obligated to give the same business deal to two parties, and makes different agreements depending on the situations. One party can get a better deal than another when all factors are taken into consideration, he said.

“I don’t know of any extra burden we put on Chris above and beyond what has been done in the past,” Tennyson said.

The newly paved area will not be used only for Schermerhorn’s hangar, he added.

“It’s a common access area that will have multiple users,” Tennyson said.

Dubarry, who was not airport manager during negotiations with Hatin and Schermerhorn, said Schermerhorn has done preparation work for the site at his own cost. Dubarry said he is hopeful a federal grant will cover the cost.

Schermerhorn did not return a phone call on Friday.

The deal came after the county agreed last year to cut Schermerhorn’s lease rate in half when his tax bill increased when it was determined that the hangars were incorrectly assessed.

Story and Comments:

• Warren County looking to fill airport manager job - September 07, 2011

The Personnel Committee voted to fill the vacated position of Warren County Airport manager. Manager Don DeGraw left to take another job out of state, and supervisors said Wednesday that the position has to be filled.

The county has received about a dozen applications so far, but decided Wednesday not to advertise a starting salary for the job because it will be based on the applicant's experience. DeGraw's base salary was $70,730.