ELIZABETHTOWN — Those pushing for commuter flights at the local airport have received another carrot to help lure an airline here. Gov. Steve Beshear last week announced that a hybrid and electric vehicle battery plant may locate in nearby Glendale.
Article originally posted by The (Elizabethtown) News-Enterprise directed to: http://www.thenewsenterprise.com/content/battery-factory-charges-airline-push
Battery factory charges airline push
By John Friedlein
Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 7:00 pm
By JOHN FRIEDLEIN
ELIZABETHTOWN — Those pushing for commuter flights at the local airport have received another carrot to help lure an airline here.
Gov. Steve Beshear last week announced that a hybrid and electric vehicle battery plant may locate in nearby Glendale.
“It’s a huge, huge project,” Airport Board consultant Luke B. Schmidt said. “It just lends itself to air travel.”
Anytime there is a major economic development of that type, it strengthens the case that this is a viable market, he said.
Elizabethtown Regional Airport already could tout the Base Realignment and Closure initiative, which will grow Fort Knox over the next couple of years.
Both BRAC and the lithium-ion battery plant are expected to create thousands of new jobs and spur development of other businesses in the area.
Commuter flight proponents already have marketed the Glendale announcement to the three airlines considering service to the area. Schmidt said he has received positive feedback.
The battery factory — which may be dependent on federal economic stimulus funds — is a consortium of 51 companies called NAATBatt.
Because so many businesses are involved, a lot of employees would travel here, Schmidt said. Suppliers and customers may also use the airport.
A local industrial development official said a member of the consortium already has flown into Elizabethtown.
Also, a survey showed the most popular destination for commuter passengers would be Detroit. This area has strong ties to the auto industry because of its many parts manufacturers.
Back in the ’80s, Piedmont Airlines and Delta served the airport. But the market at that time didn’t deliver enough revenue.
If airport officials can restart such as service, they plan to move forward on a multi-million-dollar passenger terminal.
The chances of this happening are likely better because airlines, Schmidt said, are expanding. He said he was happy to see an announcement about service coming to a small market in Kansas, next to the Fort Riley Army post.
While the cost of fuel is not sky-high anymore, the recession has been a challenge for getting an airline here.
“We’d like to see a little stronger economy,” Schmidt said.
John Friedlein can be
reached at 505-1746.