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October 3, 2013

Clinton County goes ahead with airport expansion plans

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County legislators have pulled the trigger on a major expansion at Plattsburgh International Airport.

“If building the airport was a home run then this is the grand slam,” Legislator Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain) said at Wednesday night’s Finance Committee meeting.

“When you see this in the context of the future of the county, you will know that people want more destinations and you have to figure which plan is more likely to get us there.”

McManus and all nine of his fellow legislators agreed to go forward with a $54.93 million project that will expand the terminal to 115,000 square feet, which is about triple the current size.

The larger terminal will be able to handle up to 308,540 enplanements per year by 2030. It would include four jet bridges and seven ticket counters. The parking area would increase from about 2,000 spaces to about 4,000.

The airport opened in 2007 on the flight line of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. It has done great business ever since, offering direct flights to the southern United States, the Caribbean and Las Vegas.

Daily service to Boston and back is also offered.

This year, more than 150,000 passengers are expected to come through the terminal, which was designed to handle about 31,500 per year. At times, as many as 600 people are crammed into a terminal that was built to accommodate about 300 people.

The significant growth prompted legislators to agree last year to undergo an expansion.

They quickly dismissed a $40 million option that would get the terminal up to the size it needs to handle the amount of passengers they have now.

They also considered a plan that would allow for 225,000 enplanements by 2020 at a cost of $46.47 million.

But in the end, legislators agreed that a smaller expansion might leave them in the same position in a few years of having to expand again.

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