July 30, 2013

County considers airport expansion

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County legislators are faced with a tough decision about just how much they want to expand the Plattsburgh International Airport terminal.

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Before them are three choices:

▶ Expand it to the point where it can handle the often overflowing crowds that gather now, at a cost of about $40 million.

▶ Expand to handle moderate growth over the next 16 years, at a cost of about $50 million.

▶ Expand to handle a much larger growth, at a cost of about $60 million.

“It’s a tough decision, and there are a lot of factors we have to weigh to make sure we get it right,” Legislator Robert Heins (R-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh), who chairs the county’s Airport Committee, told the Press-Republican.


The decision to expand the terminal was made last year as legislators looked for ways to alleviate complaints coming from travelers who found themselves, at times, packed in the space waiting for aircraft to unload passengers and then re-load.

The airport opened in 2007 on the flight line of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base and has since done substantial business.

The attraction of direct flights to tourist spots in Florida, South Carolina and Las Vegas has drawn many Canadian travelers. Locals are also setting off on vacations from Plattsburgh International and utilizing daily service to and from Boston.

The terminal was built mostly with federal funding, at a cost of more than $40 million. Critics have complained that it was made too small from the start, but the Federal Aviation Administration would not allow for a bigger facility, based on projections at the time.


But the number of travelers using the airport has far exceeded projections. This year, more than 150,000 passengers are expected to go through the terminal, which is designed for a maximum of about 31,500 people per year.

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