Dec. 29 -- VIENNA, Ohio -- The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport's director of aviation is hopeful for a good financial year in 2007 and beyond, based on the number of passengers taking flights in 2006 and discussions with the Federal Aviation Administration about funding.
Steve Bowser said he will not know for awhile how many passengers used the airport's new carrier, Allegiant Air, during 2006 -- but he is certain that the airport exceeded an important 10,000-passenger milestone this year that entitles the facility to $1 million in FAA funding for improvements.
The airport received only $150,000 in Airport Improvement Program money this year based on the number of flights departing the airport in 2004, when the airport had no regularly scheduled airline.
Bowser said the last numbers he saw from November of this year showed that about 12,000 passengers flew on Allegiant Air to Sanford, Fla., or on one of the airport's charter flights to Atlantic City.
The airport only qualifies for the $1 million because of the Allegiant flights, Bowser said, because only Allegiant's flights are regularly scheduled -- which is one of the requirements for the FAA money. Allegiant began offering flights two times per week to Florida starting May 19 and has continued since then except for a break in service during the month of September, which is traditionally a slow month for air service to Florida, officials said.
Just as important, Bowser said discussions with the FAA have indicated that discretionary funding will also be likely to come the airport's way in 2007. This is so the airport can continue to complete the perimeter fencing project it's been working on through 2006. The improved fencing is a safety issue, Bowser said, because it keeps wildlife away from the runways.
The airport's consultants, R.W. Armstrong of Cleveland, have advised that the project is about half-finished and that another 20,000 feet of fencing needs to be completed in 2007 at a cost of about $2 million.
Bowser said the FAA is eager to see that project completed as soon as possible and appears to be ready to provide discretionary funding to pay for it.Â "That's a high-priority item, nationwide," Bowser said of safety improvements at airports.
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