By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- The Town Council will spend just over $150,000 of casino compact payments in pursuit of making Massena International Airport a regional air traffic hub.
"We have the longest runway in the county and the newest terminal … and the best instrumentation for pilots to fly in. It makes sense for Massena to be a true regional airport," Town Supervisor Joseph Gray said.
The board okayed spending $50,000 to hire an airline consultant to secure charter flights out of Massena International. They will also dish out $103,896.98 to begin engineering for a runway extension that would be necessary to bring in bigger jetliners.
The board's decision comes on the heels of commercial carrier Allegiant Air's announcement earlier in the month that they would loan $1 million to the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority for improvements at Ogdensburg International Airport.
Gray said he believes the Federal Aviation Administration will not approve two runway extensions that are 35 miles apart, so Massena needs to get on the ball.
"The county legislature passed a resolution saying Massena would be a good regional airport," Gray said, adding that about 20 towns have sent letters expressing similar sentiments. "We need to step up to the plate and start the process."