Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Officials: Federal money, not county, will fund Elmira Corning Regional Airport

Chemung County's share of the Elmira Corning Regional Airport's extensive renovation project won't come out of county funds, officials said this week.

Between $15 million and $16 million in federal funding sources will cover the majority of the $18 million gap left following a $40 million state award received last week, Deputy County Executive Michael Krusen told county legislators at Monday's aviation committee meeting.

Passenger facility charges, which are added to the cost of airline tickets, would cover the costs of bonding for the remaining amount, Krusen said.

An application filed for the Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization competition states that the award would be paired with funds provided through the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program.

AIP grants are used for planning and development of public-use airports.

Excitement about the $58 million renovation — which includes a raised concourse, internal courtyard and expanded boarding area — continued among county officials Monday.

Improvements would allow the airport to accommodate larger airplanes like Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s, which will likely become more prevalent at regional airports, said 2nd District Legislator David Manchester, aviation committee chairman.

"There's definitely a shortage of pilots on the horizon, and what that probably will do with the workforce pool is force the major (carriers) to absorb the regionals," Manchester said. "It will be larger airplanes that will be fulfilling the tasks — not necessarily flying any more passengers, but because of the pilot's availability, they'll be flying larger planes. This will position us very well to be able to handle the larger airplanes."

Larger planes also could  accommodate more passengers, said Director of Aviation Bill Hopper. Flights currently leaving the airport are "going out very full, especially the Allegiant flights," Hopper said. "Those are, I'd say, going out with 90-plus percent enplanement."


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