Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Clinton County formally supports Sky West bid

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County legislators affirmed their support for a new airline service at Plattsburgh International Airport by unanimously backing a bid from Sky West to fly to and from Washington, D.C.

Sky West was selected by legislators Wednesday night from six bids to obtain federal Essential Air Service funding to fly out of Plattsburgh.

The airline, which is a partner of United Airlines, plans to fly from Plattsburgh to Dulles International Airport twice each weekday and once each Saturday and Sunday.

Sky West will receive about $6 million in federal money to provide the service, if it is selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation next month.

Legislators said they were elated to have the Sky West bid, which will give passengers more options for connecting flights out of Dulles.

Pen Air has been serving the Plattsburgh airport the past six years, providing daily flights to Logan International Airport in Boston.

Some passengers have complained about the difficulty in making connections out of Logan and the fact that they have to leave one terminal and re-enter another for connections, which means they would have to clear security again.

If DOT backs the county choice, Pen Air service to Boston will halt at the end of June and the new service to Washington will begin.

'GO ANYWHERE'

Connections with United, which has a code-share agreement with American, Delta and Alaska Airlines, will be more convenient for travelers, legislators say.

"You can go anywhere from Dulles," said former County Legislator Robert Heins, who chaired the Airport Committee.

He was leading the Airport Committee in 2003 when the county opted to move the airport from its small Route 3 location to the flight line of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

The new airport opened for business in the summer of 2007.

Heins told legislators Wednesday night that he was proud of their efforts to secure the Washington route.

"To have six bids is incredible," he said.

"It is a dream come true, and I thank you guys for taking a leap of faith."

'WISE CHOICE'

James McCartney, principal of the CV-TEC satellite campus that operates Plattsburgh Aeronautical Institute, said he was also pleased to see the legislature back the Sky West bid.

"It is a very wise choice going with Sky West, and a lot of people in my circles are very excited," McCartney said.

Legislator Simon Conroy (D-Area 4, Town of Plattsburgh) said the county is riding a wave of success.

"I feel we are in a very good spot," he said. "And the airport is in an especially good spot." 

MORE PASSENGERS

Conroy said the Washington destination will bring many more travelers to Plattsburgh's airport.

"We will be looking at thousands of more enplanements, and that will be great for the economy," he said.

Legislator Chris Rosenquest (D-Area 9, City of Plattsburgh) said some people will miss the service to Boston.

"But this will serve the growth of our area," he said.

Legislator Mark Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) said that making the switch is not about getting a bigger name, like United.

"It's about the data, and it shows that there are thousands more in our area that will fly to Washington from here," Dame said.

"The more passengers we have, the better it will be for our taxpayers, and it will help our economy grow even more." 

PEN AIR PRESSURE

DOT will make its final selection in mid February, and the public has until Feb. 7 to submit comments in support of Pen Air or Sky West.

Pen Air officials are urging residents to send letters of support for their service to Boston, citing its established presence and local employees.

Legislature Chairman Harry McManus said the county will be sending a "very strong" letter of support for the Sky West bid to DOT, as will the City and Town of Plattsburgh.

Local businesses and community organizations are also being asked to send letters in support of Sky West, McManus said.

He said Heins and his colleagues deserve a lot of the credit for the airport's success.

"The community will be forever indebted to that group from 2003 to 2007," McManus said.

Legislator Robert Hall (D-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh), who chairs the Airport Committee, said Heins and his colleagues were instrumental in the airport's success, which has carried on to the current legislature.

"It took all 10 of us and Michael (County Administrator Zurlo) and Rodney (Deputy Administrator) Brown to get this done," Hall said.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.pressrepublican.com

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