October 2, 2013

County to make decision on airport terminal


PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County legislators will decide tonight by how much they will expand the terminal at Plattsburgh International Airport.

It appears that they will choose the top option, which will allow for significant growth by 2030.

“This is still a tough decision when you look at all the ups and downs the airline industry has had over the years,” said Legislator Robert Heins (R-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh), who chairs the county’s Airport Committee.

“To try to project this out 30 years is tough. It’s hard to project anything out 30 years.”

The top option will expand the terminal to handle about 308,540 enplanements per year by 2030. It would include five jet bridges and seven ticket counters. Parking would be about doubled from the existing 2,000 spaces.

The terminal itself would about triple in size to around 115,000 square feet.

The cost for such an expansion originally was about $60 million, to be paid out over 30 years. But some fine-tuning of the designs has cut the cost down to about $54.93 million.

The project will be paid for by parking revenue and passenger fees. Passengers pay $4.50 on each ticket sold at the airport, which goes to the county.

Parking fees will also be raised from $5 per day for short term and $7 per day for long term to $8 per day for all vehicles.

Legislators are also considering a smaller expansion that would allow for up to 225,000 enplanements by 2030. That option originally was slated to cost about $50.74 million. The price now stands at around $46.47 million.

A third option would allow the airport to handle the crowds they have now by re-designing the inside of the terminal and adding two more ticket counters. The cost of that option is $41.59 million.

“I think that option is out,” Heins said. “We would never be able to increase business with that plan.”

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 airport, which was designed to handle about 31,500 per year. At times, as many as 600 people are crammed into a terminal that was designed for 300 people.

At the Finance Committee meeting at 5:15 p.m. today in the legislative chambers, legislators will vote on which option they want.

Chairman Jimmy Langley (R-Area 7, Peru) said it seems like the consensus is to go with the top plan.

“I haven’t heard anybody trying to shoot it down,” he said.

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