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In Personal Letter to Transportation Secretary LaHood, Schumer Supports $1.5 Million Grant Request From Albany Airport Funds Would Expand Service To Destinations Like Houston & NYC

To Provide Capital Region With Better Air Service, Airport Committing $1.5 Million, Seeking Support From Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer County Businesses

Schumer: This Investment Would Help Albany Intl Deliver Affordable and More Frequent Air Service


Today, in a personal letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Department of Transportation to approve a $1.5 million grant to the Albany International Airport, to help attract a new lowcost carrier and expand existing service. Airline consolidation, high gas prices, and the slow economy have all led to air service and passenger volume decrease, resulting in higher airline ticket costs at the airport. In order to boost service, provide more options for travelers, and increase competition to lower prices, the airport is developing a comprehensive Air Service Development Program (ASDP). As part of this program, the airport seeks to create a $3.3 million Air Service Incentive Program (ASIP) to attract new carriers and additional routes. The $1.5 million in federal funds would match a $1.5 million contribution by the airport, and be supplemented by $300,000 in funding from local business groups that would benefit from increased air service.


"Firstrate air service in and out of Albany International is a golden ticket for the Capital Region's jobcreating businesses," said Schumer. "We need to make sure that GlobalFoundries, SEMATECH consortium members, and other businesses in our emerging hightech and nanotechnology industries can reach Silicon Valley, New York City and other business hubs across the country. They need to fly to new business opportunities easily and cheaply, and this federal grant could help them do exactly that."


Albany International Airport is seeking a Small Community Air Service Development (SCASD) grant to help them attract and support additional air service. Albany airport's proposal places an emphasis on increasing flights to Houston, a national air travel hub, that also benefits a number of area businesses which desire a direct connection to Texas's hightech market. Increased service to Houston would also be a gateway to new opportunities in Mexico and on the West Coast. Houston is just one of many destinations the airport will explore, with the primary focus on new destinations being their ability to open up new opportunities to Capital Region businesses. Securing the federal grant will help the airport attract new carriers and service routes because airlines use SCASD grants as a barometer of an airport's ability to support an air service expansion.


According to the Department of Transportation, "The Small Community Program provides considerable flexibility in how funds can be used to implement a community's grant proposal. For example, grant funds can be used to cover the expenses of any new advertising or promotional activities that can reasonably be related to improving the air service to the community. Funds may also be used for new studies designed to measure air service deficiencies, or to measure traffic loss or diversion to other communities, or for the employment or use of new, dedicated air service development staff on a longterm basis, advertising or public relations agencies, universities, and consulting firms. In addition, grant funds may also be used for financial incentives, including subsidy or revenue guarantees, to air carriers in conjunction with their provision of air service or the fare levels charged, or to ground service providers in providing access to air transportation services."


The text of Senator Schumer's letter appears below:


July 20, 2011


The Honorable Ray L. LaHood


U.S. Department of Transportation

400 7 th Street, SW

Washington, D.C. 20590


Dear Secretary LaHood,


            I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by the Albany International Airport and Albany County Airport Authority for funding under the  Small Community Air Service Development Grant.


            Albany International Airport's air service and passenger volume has declined in recent years due in large part to airline consolidation and air service capacity cut backs in response to higher fuel prices and a weakened economy. The result has been higher than average air fares at Albany and a need for the Airport to develop and implement a comprehensive air service development program.  This grant, if awarded, would help the Albany International Airport to attract a new lowfare carrier or expand existing service to meet the growing needs of its business community.


            Albany is fast becoming the nanotech center of the country.  Sematech, a consortium of companies that make up 50 percent of the world wide chip market is headquartered in Albany as is Albany NanoTech and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.  GE's World Headquarters for Research and Development is located within five miles of the Airport.  Just seventeen miles north of the Albany International Airport, GlobalFoundries is nearing the completion of a $4.6 billion chip fab plant that will employ over 1200 new workers.  A second similar plant is under consideration. 


            At this time, GlobalFoundries and many of its suppliers that have opened local offices along with other major firms have acknowledged that they are bypassing Albany International Airport in favor of other airports to reach the national and international hightech cities that they serve.  The award of this Small Community Air Service Development Grant would enable New York's Capital Region to sustain an environment for economic growth and enable the Airport to meet the current and future air service requirements of its business community. I applaud Albany International Airport and the Albany County Airport Authority for its foresight, and I sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.


            Thank you for your consideration. For additional information, please to do not hesitate to contact me or my Grants Director, Grant Kerr, in my Washington office at  202.224.6542.