Pa.'s Lehigh Valley Int'l Airport Gets Federal Grants

The board that operates Lehigh Valley International Airport will receive $5.1 million in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration this month to fund airport redevelopment work, land acquisitions and an environmental impact study.

The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, which operates LVIA and Queen City Airport in Allentown, receives grants from the FAA every year.

The board accepted the five grants at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

The board also received word Tuesday from the airport's solicitor, Chuck Fonzone, that it is unlikely LVIA will recoup any of the $1 million it lost when Southeast Airlines shut down in November 2004. That's because the founders of the company cannot be located.

Southeast, a tiny Largo, Fla. carrier that flew cheap, nonstop flights to Orlando, left unpaid bills at LVIA and other airports in the Northeast.

The company never filed for bankruptcy, which has hampered efforts to recover the money, Fonzone said.

The airport is also trying to recoup money from Hooters Air, which ran up $1 million in fuel charges at LVIA before it stopped flying last year.

The case is in litigation.

The board also discussed a parcel of land it might acquire.

It considered the land acquisition in executive session, and did not take action.

Some of the money LVIA will receive from the FAA is reimbursement for past expenditures.

For example, the airport will receive $3.8 million from the FAA to defray the cost of land it acquired to add to its safety buffer zone.

The other grants from the FAA are:

$161,975 to update the master plan for Queen City.

$713,349 to repave the area where airplanes park at Queen City.

$119,000 to repair and extend the roadway that planes use to access the runway at Queen City.

And $250,000 for phase two of an environmental study on the impact of extending the secondary runway at LVIA.

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