By KEN SHMIDHEISER, Managing Editor and CHRIS HARRIS, Staff Writer Commonwealth Journal
By KEN SHMIDHEISER, Managing Editor and CHRIS HARRIS, Staff Writer Commonwealth Journal
In addition to a deeper overlay on the 6,000-foot-long runway, the Elizabethtown Regional Airport at Addington Field is making improvements to its lighting system and its weather service program, said Joe Yates, chairman of the Elizabethtown Airport Board.
Elizabethtown City Council got an intimate look at the changes at the airport during its work session, in which the board and its consultant, Luke Schmidt, updated city officials on an aggressive plan to attract a major airline by the end of the year.
Since revealing its pursuit of a commuter airline service with a connection to a major hub, the airport has rebranded itself and launched millions in upgrades to meet state and federal aviation guidelines, Schmidt said. The airport also is in the process of moving its certification from a general aviation airport to a commercial airport, Yates added.
Schmidt said the airport started dialogs with seven major airlines, but airline mergers, bankruptcies, the economy and rising fuel costs stalled talks in many cases.
One major airline is showing increased interest in expanding to Elizabethtown, though, and hopes are a deal will be finalized by the end of 2011 if not sooner, Schmidt said. The airline could not be revealed for confidentiality purposes.
If a deal is struck, Yates said the airport would approach the Kentucky Department of Aviation and the governor’s office for a state grant to build a passenger terminal, which is expected to cost $3.5 to $4 million and is required to be in place before the airline service can launch. The board wants to launch the service within the next year.
Yates said the airport also will have to provide money upfront for the airline, either by raising $2 million through a travel bank or offering a $2 million guarantee.
Schmidt and Yates said the travel bank is preferred and could be obtained by approaching local businesses to purchase subscriptions to the service. Schmidt said the minimum subscription would be $1,000 and would increase for businesses that travel frequently. As an incentive to subscribe to the service, businesses would have subscription fees reimbursed in full if they utilize the service. Flight costs would be reimbursed upon proof of travel until the amount of the subscription is fully repaid, he added.
“It’s not a donation,” Schmidt said.
The travel bank creates built-in business for the service because most businesses will want to get their money back if they purchase a subscription, he added.
Schmidt said the airline appears to prefer the travel bank method, too, but the guarantee would be needed if the airline rejects the concept. Schmidt said a guaranteed amount was raised for an airline service in Manhattan, Kan., to shore up shortfalls in its first few months of service, when it started turning a profit. The airline has since added several flights to Dallas Fort Worth and Chicago. Schmidt said the work in Kansas to promote the airport, which is located near Fort Riley, is an indicator smaller military markets can be successful.
And the local airport can be even more successful because Fort Knox is larger and the air service market in Elizabethtown dwarfs the market in Manhattan, Schmidt added.
The service would be geared toward military and business flights, Schmidt said, and he projected Fort Knox would have more than 100,000 air trips for trainees in 2012. Flying out of Elizabethtown would be easier and more affordable for the post, he added.
“We’re real confident” it will be successful, Schmidt said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington, DC, Oct 21 – U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) visited with two visionary groups in eastern Kentucky on Wednesday, October 19th. During a monthly meeting in Whitesburg, the Letcher County Planning Commission updated Congressman Rogers on progress and plans for economic development and tourism in Letcher County.
“The Letcher County Planning Commission is on the right track,” said Rogers. “You can change your outlook and make great things happen in your community by getting involved. I commend you for being proactive and planning your work and working your plan.”
Congressman Rogers later joined the newly formed Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, made up of eight counties, including Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, and Pike Counties. Together, they announced the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a Small Community Air Service Development grant to implement a scheduled passenger airline service at the Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport. The $750,000 Federal Aviation Administration grant will provide a revenue guarantee for a commercial airline service to be established in eastern Kentucky.
“This grant is a big step toward opening greater doors of opportunity for eastern Kentucky,” said Rogers. “This project has been in the works for more than two years and I am pleased that the Department of Transportation recognized the hard work and commitment from area leaders to bring this much needed air service to the region. A scheduled passenger airline service will benefit economic development, tourism and much more.”
The Small Community Air Service Development Program offers highly competitive grants to small communities across the country where air fares are higher than average and improved service will provide benefits to businesses, educational institutions and other enterprises. The City of Pikeville was one of only 29 communities selected across 22 states to receive this grant. Only three of the awards will assist communities in acquiring scheduled airline service. City and airport leaders are working with L.B. Schmidt and Associates, LLC to continue discussions with a commercial carrier.
“This is not a Pikeville project. It is an eastern Kentucky project,” said Tracy Syck, Chairperson of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce that represents eight counties. “Businesses in cities along U.S. 23 and highway 80 will all have a local commercial airport to call their own. We are working diligently to secure an air carrier that will be as committed to our region as we are.”
“We are leaps ahead of where we were last year and everybody is really excited,” said Donovan Blackburn, Pikeville City Manager. “I believe you’re going to see commercial air service at the Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport very soon. We will be making some improvements at the airport and working with TSA for security at the terminal to prepare for our new air service.”
The Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport is approximately 6 miles northwest of Pikeville, Kentucky. More than 20 aircraft are based on its field, including single- and multi-engine airplanes.
Grants are awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The FAA is responsible for the safety of civil aviation.
Rogers has served Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District since 1981. With a focus on economic development, job creation, fighting illegal drugs and preserving Appalachia’s natural treasures, he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and fighting for the region he represents. For more information visit www.halrogers.house.gov.
Congressman Hal Rogers (R) of Kentucky told those gathered at a reception at University of Pikeville’s Booth Auditorium that a $750,000 federal aviation grant has been approved for take off.
The formal announcement made by the congressman follows efforts made by him along with a partnership between the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Pikeville, Pike County Regional Airport and the City of Pikeville.
“We worked with them on getting a small airports grant out of Washington which has been successful and we have tried to help them to locate a carrier that would want to fly in and out of here and to work with the T.S.A. – Traffic Security Administration,” said Rogers.
Officials said it will help the region’s economy.
“For business administrative folks who are considering building a location here or expanding to this part of the world, it will make it much easier for them to get here. for the current business community throughout the region it will make it much easier when they have to go someplace to visit a customer, visit a corporateoffice or a home office,” said Luke Schmidt, a consultant brought in who has recently worked with an airport in Elizabethtown.
“Years in the past we have had to leave to go to places like Lexington and Huntington and Charleston,” said Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn.
“Now what we are seeing is the trend in reverse, people are now coming here to the events at the east Kentucky expo center, the hospital.”
The reality is that we are going to have the opportunity to attract businessesthat we would have never attracted before>
The congressman said it will also help anyone just wanting to take a trip.
“It will be a huge convenience for people that live in this immediate area,” said Rogers.