Press-Republican

August 24, 2013

Plattsburgh Airport wins big grant

JOE LoTEMPLIO
Press-Republican

WASHINGTON — Federal dollars for the improvement of Plattsburgh International Airport continue to flow, as the county has been awarded another $2.5 million.

The money is from the federal Military Airport Program, which the airport has been involved in since before it opened in 2007. It will be used to improve the airport’s water and wastewater systems.

“We started this project last year, and this is the final piece of funding for that project,” Clinton County Legislature Chairman Jimmy Langley (R-Area 7, Peru) said Friday.

“We’ve been successful out there, and they like to fund projects that are successful, and we are glad to receive this assistance.”

‘GREAT INVESTMENT’

The county has received about $50 million from the Military Airport Program over the years for the development and improvement of the airport on the flight line of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

“It’s been a great investment because the airport, as we’ve seen, has generated a significant amount of commerce in our region,” Langley said.

The $2,565,000 for Plattsburgh, and another $1.8 million for taxiway rehabilitation at Watertown International Airport, was funneled through the federal Department of Transportation.

“International airports near the border are key pieces of northern New York’s economy, and I applaud the DOT for recognizing their importance,” Congressman Bill Owens said in a news release.

“These two airports connect our rural communities to larger airline hubs, taking business travelers and tourists to where they need to be. They are also valuable revenue generators as Canadians, seeking cheaper flights and the relative convenience of domestic travel, are increasingly crossing the border to purchase seats on U.S. flights.”

‘INTEGRAL TO GROWTH’

“This latest award reflects the continued confidence of Washington in the future of Plattsburgh International Airport,” North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said in a statement.

“We and the county continue to convey the central importance of this facility to the region’s economic future, and we continue, in turn, to show our federal partners real progress and real opportunities. That’s what merits their steady confidence and investment. 

“Our congratulations to our Clinton County partners and profound thanks to Congressman Owens and to Sens. (Charles) Schumer and (Kirsten) Gillibrand, who are constantly supportive,” Douglas said.

Airport Manager Chris Kreig said improvements to the water and wastewater systems “are integral to the airport’s continued growth and bolster our ability to attract additional businesses and jobs to the North Country.

“We appreciate the continued recognition by the Department of Transportation of the airport as a regional economic asset and thank Congressman Owens and our Senate delegation for their continued support.”

POPULAR WITH QUEBECERS

In July, the New York Times reported that as many as five million Canadians cross the border each year to fly. According to the same article, those willing to cross the border to travel can find flights leaving from a nearby U.S. airport for as much as 30 percent less than they would pay in Canada.

The Plattsburgh airport has proven to be very popular with travelers from Quebec, as many take advantage of direct flights to Florida and Las Vegas.

The county is seeking more federal funds for improvements to nose docks and should know by the fall how much will be awarded, Langley said.

The county is also considering a major expansion of the terminal, and legislators will decide by the end of the year just how much they want to increase its size.

Email Joe LoTemplio:jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com