Saturday, September 30, 2017

Elizabeth City Regional Airport / Coast Guard Air Station (KECG), Pasquotank County, North Carolina: $2.5M impact if runway closes

Coast Guardsman Chris Fisher (left) and Ryan Miller perform a preflight check on a Piper Warrior airplane at Elizabeth City Regional Airport, Friday. A new report by the airport manager estimates the economic impact from the U.S. Coast Guard's temporary closing of its primary runway for maintenance could be $2.5 million. The Coast Guard has said the runway isn't likely to be closed until at least 2018. 

The U.S. Coast Guard's plans to close Base Elizabeth City's primary runway for maintenance work could have a $2.5 million impact on the local economy, most of it in lost business to a contractor based at Elizabeth City Regional Airport, a new report shows.

If the Coast Guard replaces lighting along Runway 10-28 without a backup runway in place, it could cost the Telephonics Corporation more than $2.1 million, according to a memo Airport Manager Gordon Rowell shared with the Airport Authority during the board’s meeting Wednesday.

Telephonics specializes in aircraft communication systems and other electronics, and provides repair and support services to customers, including the Coast Guard's Aviation Logistics Center, based on a 2010 report from the company.

Telephonics officials declined to comment on the report’s findings.

The runway closure could also cost the airport and Elizabeth State University each about $130,000, Rowell reported, citing loss of fuel sales and hangar rentals for the airport and disrupted flight instruction for ECSU.

Rowell also reported the closure could cost the airport its on-site mechanic, John Sanders, and a newly signed-on flight school, the Navy Annapolis Flight Center. Losing Sanders and the NAFC could in turn cost the airport business, because pilots who use their services would use other airports.

Base Cmdr. Randy Meador was absent from Wednesday’s Airport Authority meeting. However, he's previously reported the Coast Guard may not start the runway project until 2020 or later.

Airport officials are hoping that window gives the airport enough time to lease Base Elizabeth City's secondary runway, 1-19. That runway is badly deteriorated and currently is closed even to light-weight civilian aircraft.

The state of North Carolina is willing to pay for fixing 1-19, given the Elizabeth City Regional Airport's operations are important to the regional economy. However, airport officials have explained the state will only fund those costly improvements if the Coast Guard provides a long-term lease for 1-19. That ensures the state's investment will continue to benefit public aviation.

Rowell said he’s hopeful his economic impact statement will bolster the case for granting the lease.

Meador has said he strongly supports the lease, but Rowell said Wednesday it remains under review by higher-ranking Coast Guard officers. It's unclear when they'll make a decision, he said.

Story and photo gallery ➤

No comments:

Post a Comment