SCHUMER ANNOUNCES OVER $3.9 MILLION COMING TO WATERTOWN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT FOR RUNWAY EXTENSION
Grant Will Fund Runway Rehabilitation at Watertown International Schumer: Safe and Dependable Airport Service is Critical to Northern New York
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U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that Watertown International Airport will receive a grant totaling $3,904,500 from the Department of Transportation. The money will be used to fund a runway extension. Schumer has long been fighting for funding to complete this task, writing letters and weighing in with Department of Transportation officials.
"Today is a day we've long been fighting for it is great news for travelers who use Watertown International, and the travelers the airport hopes to attract with an extended runway" said Schumer. "Safe and dependable airport service is critical to Upstate New York's future, so we need to guarantee that residents remain connected to keep the economic engine running. I will fight to keep these grants coming."
"This is good news for Watertown," said U.S. Representative Bill Owens. "By giving the airport additional resources to expand the runway, we can help create jobs and bring more business to our community."
"This funding is exactly what we need to expand our airport and the economy of Jefferson County," said Jefferson County Administrator Bob Hageman. " With the efforts of Senator Schumer and Congressman Owens partnering with us, we are finally receiving the funds that we need to make the complete runway extension a reality."
Over the last several years, Watertown Airport officials have been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to extend their runway in order to accommodate more airlines. At its current length of 5000' some larger aircraft carrying 50, 70 or 86 passengers are unable to utilize the Watertown Airport, or are forced to take on fewer passengers, cargo and fuel. This limits both the destinations that carriers can fly to and also prevents it from maximizing the Watertown travel market.
Jefferson County completed a Commercial Air Service Study in 2007 whose findings indicated that WIA is missing an opportunity to capture a relatively large, commercial aviation market. This is especially true because of the airport's proximity to Fort Drum, home of the United States Army's 10 th Mountain Division, which produces 13,000 nondeployment trips annually from other airports. Fort Drum is anticipated to expand from 12,300 soldiers in 2003, to 20,300 soldiers in 2013, making WIA ideally situated to handle a drastic increase in enplanements from the Central New York area.
Two airlines have written letters of support for an extension of Watertown's runway Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue Airways. While neither airline has firmly committed to adding air service at Watertown International in the immediate future, Schumer noted that the two letters demonstrate the inability for commercial airlines to add or increase their presence at the facility, given the airport's runway constraints.
Schumer today said that extending the runway at Watertown International would help attract more commercial airlines to the airport, bringing jobs and greater travel options to residents in the area.
Schumer added "I've been proud to work to secure much needed funding for the Watertown airport and I pledge to continue to do so."
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