Contract awarded for airport project

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Jul. 17--PITTSTON TWP. -- The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Bi-County Board of Commissioners awarded a contract for more than $2 million Thursday to Pikes Creek Site Contractors to rehabilitate the General Aviation and old terminal apron.

With a bid of $2,042,054.65, the company was the lowest of four bidders. Other companies which submitted bids included Slusser Brothers, $2,921,583; Popple Construction, $2,053,637.50; and Latona Trucking, $2,442,922.95.

The board also approved an agreement to lease about 4 acres of airport land to the Federal Aviation Administration to construct a new air traffic control tower and base building with about 5 acres for access roads. The agreement begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2019.

Amid the recession, the airport continues to see a decline in passengers with the number of people boarding planes decreasing 9 percent from 20,746 in June 2008 to 18,874 this June. Those kinds of declines are what Delta officials say caused them to cancel that airline's last remaining flight to Atlanta as of Aug. 17.

Airport officials continue to talk to other airlines about replacing the flight, airport director Barry Centini said after the meeting. He added that the Delta Atlanta flight was typically filled, and the airline has cut back flights at the airport over the years.

"They're claiming they lost $1 million over the last year. I don't see it. They cut seats. They chased people away. You couldn't get on a flight," Mr. Centini said. "When they merged with Northwest, they talked about how they're going to protect the small airports. They've become the biggest airline in the world, and they're only interested in the biggest markets in the world."

Delta officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Mr. Centini said he hopes other airlines won't cut flights as a result of the decline in air travel. The Air Transport Association of America projects a seven percent year-over-year drop in passenger traffic from June 1 through August 31 because of the global recession. That translates to about 150,000 fewer passengers per day. About 195 million passengers are expected to fly this summer on U.S. airlines, down from 209 million during the summer of 2008.

Contact the writer: dallabaugh@citizensvoice.com

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