HIA sees increases in traffic
Thursday, July 01, 2004
BY ELLEN LYON
Of The Patriot-News
Passenger traffic at Harrisburg International Airport rose nearly 6.4 percent in May -- 123,464 travelers passed through the airport -- when compared to the same month last year, HIA officials reported yesterday.
So far this year, traffic is up nearly 6.5 percent from last year, with 557,383 travelers using HIA since January.
Nationwide, the number of airline passengers fell 4.9 percent in May, with an increase of 4.7 percent so far this year, officials noted.
HIA Aviation Director Fred Testa attributed the traffic increase at Harrisburg to a new TransMeridian Airline non-stop flight to Orlando, Fla., expanded Northwest service to Minneapolis and the use of larger planes by US Airways, Delta and American Eagle.
The Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which owns and operates HIA and Capital City Airport in Fairview Twp., will be adding another airport to its portfolio.
The authority board voted unanimously yesterday to buy Chambersburg Municipal Airport in Greene Twp., Franklin County, from Chambersburg borough for $790,000, plus the cost of an appraisal, engineering and environmental reviews and legal work.
The borough, which built the general aviation airport on 93 acres in the late 1960s, had wanted to close it, but the Federal Aviation Administration stepped in and asked the authority to buy it. The FAA is providing a $750,000 grant and another $41,660 in funding, and the state is kicking in $20,833, Testa said.
The authority is required to provide $25,657 in matching funds to buy the airport and snow-removal equipment, Testa said. It already has spent $43,326 for an engineering review and other expenses, he added.
Testa estimated that the airport needs about $1.8 million in improvements, for which he plans to pursue grants. He said the authority's goal is to make the financially troubled facility self-supporting.
Chambersburg Municipal Airport will close on July 27 and reopen on July 29 as Franklin County Regional Airport.
The airport has a 3,300-foot-long and 75-foot-wide asphalt runway, a 1,150-square-foot administration building, nine T-hangars and 11,730 square feet of conventional hangar space, according to information supplied by the authority.
About 30 private aircraft and the Chambersburg Skydiving Center, which HIA officials said is the largest such center on the East Coast, are based at the airport.
In recent years, the airport has lost business because it doesn't sell fuel, but the authority intends to make fuel available there again, Testa said.
The authority does not anticipate having to hire additional staff to maintain and operate the airport.
"In the beginning it's going to be run much as it has been," by people already there, Testa said.
In other action yesterday, the board unanimously:
- Approved the purchase of two heavy-equipment loaders with two 30-foot ramp plows for $591,563 from Elliot & Frantz of Harrisburg. The loaders will be used for snow removal.
- Awarded a $191,500 contract to URS Corp. of Hunt Valley, Md., for engineering services on a new taxiway at HIA to replace an existing one.
- Accepted a $15 million, three-year, revolving line of credit from Waypoint Bank. It will be used to pay bills while the airport awaits receipt of federal and state grants, officials said.