OGDENSBURG -- Visiting the Ogdensburg International Airport today, Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) urged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to approve the city's request to extend its runway by 1,200 feet, according to Schumer's office.
The expansion is necessary for Allegiant Air, which recently decided to offer flights from Ogdensburg, to land its planes, Schumer said.
Allegiant Air flies much larger planes than those that take off and land at Ogdensburg Airport, and these aircraft need a larger runway in order to operate.
Schumer said that FAA approval would be the first major step in turning Ogdensburg Airport into a major regional air travel hub for residents of the North Country and Canada, which would be a major benefit to the local economy for decades to come.
“Allegiant Air is prepared to take off at Ogdensburg Airport, bringing North Country travelers more options and destinations and providing a major boon to the regional economy, but one factor is standing in its way – an extension of the airport’s current runway that is waiting on approval from the FAA,” Schumer said. “This new runway is needed for the larger Allegiant planes to take off and land, and I am urging the FAA to approve the plans as soon as possible.”
Ogdensburg International Airport recently signed a contract with Allegiant Air to offer charter flights. Schumer said that these new flights, and the potential increase in travelers, would be a huge boon for St. Lawrence County and the entire North Country economy. This agreement has the potential to increase traffic by tens of thousands of passengers per year, as the larger Allegiant jet planes carry more people and provide access to numerous other destinations around the country, according to Schumer.
Schumer says a strong airport, like what Ogdensburg is poised to become, will be in line for more federal dollars. Essential Air Service funds (EAS) and Airport Improvement Program (AIP) dollars are awarded to airports with a certain number of passengers each year.
These funds help keep our airports in top shape, and Schumer said in a statement that he will fight for Ogdensburg to receive that federal funding the moment it meets the minimum passenger threshold.
This can't happen until the FAA approves Ogdensburg’s request to expand its runway by 1,200 feet. This expansion is needed because the airport’s current runway cannot support Allegiant Air’s larger jet planes. After extending the runway, the terminal would then be upgraded and linked to the city’s water service.
In order to accommodate the runway expansion, approximately 2,000 feet of Route 6B would need to be relocated and additional fencing would need to be added, pending FAA approval.
Schumer says he was joined by Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority director Wade David, Assemblywoman Addie Russell, St. Lawrence County IDA chairman Pat Kelly, St. Lawrence County Administrator Karen St. Hilare, county legislator John Putney and Ogdensburg city officials.
As a result of the contract, the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, which approved the agreement with Allegiant, also announced that it would create a four-year program aimed at attracting more commercial air carriers to the Ogdensburg Airport, Schumer said. Cape Air is the only commercial airline offering passenger service from the Ogdensburg International Airport.
Allegiant Air is owned by Allegiant Travel Co. and is based in Las Vegas. It operates in 98 cities across the country, including Plattsburgh and Syracuse. Allegiant’s jet planes usually seat 156 to 223 passengers, according to Schumer.