Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Passenger usage of Watertown International Airport (KART) sets records

In July, 4,998 passengers used Watertown International Airport — a record for a single month.

This was certainly cause for celebration. But officials had to put the champagne on hold as they received even more good news. The July record was broken last month when 5,244 passengers passed through the airport’s terminal.

American Airlines offers two flights each day between the county-operated facility in Dexter and Philadelphia International Airport. On July 6, it introduced the 50-seat model CRJ 200 jet aircraft. This replaced the 37-seat Bombardier Dash 8 turboprop plane it had used for a year.

Using the turboprop aircraft was necessary as the airport undertook capital improvements. The projects included one last year to extend the length of the runway, from 6,000 feet to 7,001 feet.

American Airlines will now use the 50-seat jet aircraft year-round. The longer runway will give jet passenger planes the additional room they need to come to a halt under winter conditions; it also will allow a wider variety of jet aircrafts to land at the airport.

Airport officials reached an agreement with American Airlines in early 2014 to change its twice-daily route to Philadelphia rather than Chicago. With the improvements made at Watertown International, this revision has helped increase passenger usage.

And frankly, we expressed our initial skepticism on this page when the new arrangement was announced more than three years ago. It’s good that airline officials carried out their plan in a way that enhanced service to passengers.

“Last year saw 35,756 passengers flown to and from Watertown International Airport using the smaller Dash 8 aircraft,” according to a story published Saturday by the Watertown Daily Times. “The airport has a handful of upcoming projects, including rehabilitation of the terminal apron, which is where aircraft are parked, refueled, unloaded or boarded. The $2.1 million reconstruction project will remove pavement deficiencies and improve drainage and lighting. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently granted $1,017,863 to the airport to help cover the cost of the apron project.”

Credit goes to authorities with American Airlines in devising an effective plan to maximize passenger interest and working with the airport as it undertakes these important projects. We also commend officials with Watertown International, particularly manager Grant W. Sussey, in continuing to provide excellent service to passengers while the work has gone on. Members of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators have supported the airport tremendously since they took control of the facility in 2005, and this demonstrates their commitment to ensuring exceptional service for passengers.

“We’re extremely pleased with the response we’re getting from the runway extensions and the return of the jet,” Jefferson County Legislator Philip N. Reed, chairman of the General Services Committee, was quoted as saying in the story. “It has a nice ripple effect for the economy in the area.”

Mr. Reed is correct that increased usage of the airport is good news for the north country’s economy. People conducting business in the region find it a convenient way travel between here and other destinations.

American Airlines merged with US Airways several years ago, and Philadelphia served as the major hub for both companies. The airport offers the combined airlines connecting routes to many other U.S. and international sites, which makes it incredibly valuable.

Federal programs benefiting regional airports have confronted potential cuts by the Trump administration. We urge our elected representatives in Washington to examine the growth that’s occurring at Watertown International Airport. They should remind officials in the executive branch that commerce in the north depends to a good extent on easy access to airline routes to other areas across the nation, and maintaining adequate funding for regional airports that serve residents so significantly is essential.

Original article ➤ http://www.watertowndailytimes.com

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