FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2007
Schumer, McHugh Back Plattsburgh Airports Effort To Secure Much Needed Federal Funding To Expand The Airport
Lawmakers Personally Lobby Federal Dept. of Transportation to Approve New Grant to Help Local Leaders Attract and Promote New Service
Grant Would Help Bring New Service to Myrtle Beach and Promote Plattsburgh as an Alternative to Montreal's Crowded, Overpriced Airports
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Representative John M. McHugh backed an effort by the Plattsburgh Airport to promote and expand the airport. Schumer and McHugh each today sent a personal letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters asking her to approve a $625,000 federal grant to help officials attract and promote new service, in this case, direct charter service from Plattsburgh to Myrtle Beach. Schumer and McHugh said the grant would be a shot in the arm for the airport and the entire region and put it on track for future growth. Horry County is requesting funding through the Small Community Air Service Development Grant program.
"Plattsburgh Airport is the ideal candidate for this grant program because its goal is to improve air service and lower prices for residents in smaller communities," Schumer said. "One of the first things businesses look at when they consider moving to a new location is whether there are good air service options in the area. We need to bolster air service in the North Country, plain and simple, and this grant would help do that by promoting the airport not only to potential passengers but to new carriers as well."
"Plattsburgh and the surrounding communities have shown great initiative in their attempts to expand economic growth," McHugh said. "I am happy to support this new element of economic development. This grant would raise the Plattsburgh Airport profile as an outstanding investment site for carriers nationwide. Due to the expanded travel opportunity for area residents and our friends across the border that would accompany this grant, I will support the application for funding every step of the way."
Schumer and McHugh said that the grant would be put toward securing new service from Plattsburgh Airport to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Myrtle Beach Direct is an operating charter service developing routes to bring traffic into Myrtle Beach. They began service this year to Niagara Falls, N.Y., which has demonstrated the ability to draw Canadian flyers to near-border airports like Plattsburgh. They wish to add three new airports in 2008 and are targeting Plattsburgh to be one of the three (along with Dallas/Ft. Worth and Rockford/Chicago). As Plattsburgh is located a less than an hour from Montreal, the grant would also help promote Plattsburgh's airport to a large market of Canadian air travelers.
The new route is contingent on Myrtle Beach obtaining this grant to underwrite the start-up of the new Plattsburgh operation and engage in marketing in Montreal. Garry Douglas Chairman of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and backed by Schumer and McHugh, have requested a $625,000 grant.
Under current law, the Small Community Air Service Development Program is limited to roughly 40 communities. Only those communities with insufficient air service or unreasonably high airfares are eligible to participate in the program. The law also limits the eligibility to communities with small hubs and smaller airports. According to the legislation, DOT may use funds in the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program to provide assistance to implement measures considered appropriate to improve air service both in terms of the cost of such service to consumers and the availability of such service. For Plattsburgh, the goal would be to improve air service through marketing and promotion of air service.