Friday, February 2, 2018

Senator calls Hagerstown Regional Airport (KHGR) an 'economic hub' for the area



U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen heard an update on Hagerstown Regional Airport's economic impact when he visited the facility Friday.

"I have been up to Hagerstown many, many times, but this is my first visit to the airport," Van Hollen said before a gathering of about a dozen people, many of them airport or county officials. "I think everybody here knows this is such an important part of our regional economy, and we look forward to being a partner at the federal level with the efforts here, primarily through the Essential Air Service program and other efforts that we can work with you on. ... I've been hearing from local businesses and people who live and work in Hagerstown how important this airport is to them to help connect them with folks around the country and businesses that are doing business here."

The Essential Air Service program helps guarantee that small communities maintain a level of scheduled air service.




During the visit, Van Hollen, D-Md., heard a report from Phil Ridenour, the airport director.

The airport, north of Hagerstown, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, Ridenour said, and is one of the oldest continuously operating airports in the United States. He said 50,618 passengers came through the airport last year, counting both departures and arrivals.

"That's one of the highest numbers we've had for quite a while," he said.

The airport's annual budget is a little more than $2 million, Ridenour said. But he said the airport's economic impact goes beyond its immediate operations and accounts for more than 1,600 jobs in the area.

About 17 entities do business at the airport, including Sierra Nevada Corp., which Van Hollen was to tour after his airport stop.




After hearing Ridenour's report, Van Hollen said the federal government needs to do its part to make sure "all systems are go" for regional airports.

"It's a really important hub, economic hub, for this area," he said of the Hagerstown-area facility. "You've got 50,000 passengers flying in and out of here every year and you've got more and more businesses, like Sierra Nevada, being attracted to this area because of the airport. So I'm pleased that, at the federal level, we're able to get grants from the FAA, about $1.6 million this past year, working on mainly Essential Air Service, so that we can continue to attract passengers and businesses to Hagerstown and to the airport. So we need to make sure all systems are go."

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