DRA: Residents need to utilize air service|
Saturday, June 23, 2012
By Dianne Byers Staff Writer
REYNOLDSVILLE - If DuBois Regional Airport is going to continue to offer commercial air service, local residents must utilize it. Loren Bishop, chairman of the Clearfield and Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority, at yesterday's meeting, told board members they should contact area legislators to request continued support of the airport and encourage those living in the tri-counties area to use the local amenity.
DuBois Regional Airport's commercial air service provider, Silver Airways, formerly Gulfstream Airlines, operates daily service to Cleveland-Hopkins Airport, Cleveland, Ohio, using federal subsidies from the essential air service program.
The EAS program was developed in 1978 following the airline deregulation act, which gave air carriers freedom to determine what domestic markets they would serve and what their fares would be. The EAS program was put into place to guarantee small communities served by air carriers prior to deregulation the ability to maintain a minimum level of scheduled air service.
According to published reports, although some lawmakers proposed eliminating the EAS program throughout the 48 states by 2013, in February, Congress approved legislation maintaining the EAS program with an 11 percent increase in subsidies.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, yesterday in a press release, pledged his support for the EAS program and DuBois Regional Airport stating he believes "access to the national transportation system is critical for our area and the continued economic development for the region."
Passenger numbers were down for June although Bob Shaffer, manager, said he attributes some of the decline to the current standstill in the local Marcellus shale natural gas extraction process. And at a meeting recently with Mickey Bowman, Silver Airways vice president, Bowman reported Silver Airways is experiencing lower passenger numbers system-wide.
Bishop said although Silver Airways has been providing exemplary service with next to no delays or cancellations and the authority is extremely pleased with its performance, lower passenger numbers may spell future bad news for DuBois Regional Airport. He implored the authority get the word out to local residents who are planning to travel by air that "If you are planning a trip utilize your local airport."
In other business, the authority:
• heard Shaffer eulogize Robert Spencer of DuBois and formerly of Grampian, who played a huge role in laying the foundation for the DuBois Regional Airport. Spencer was the former president of Beechwoods Flying Service Inc. that operated the former DuBois-Jefferson County Airport, now DuBois Regional Airport and offered customized aircraft and helicopter flying service to the local area.
• approved purchasing a one-year policy for general liability coverage from Ace Group and workers compensation from Chartis Insurance at a cost of $23,216 through Smeal Insurance Co., Brookville. Shaffer said last year, the authority paid nearly $1,000 more.
• extended the contract with The Flight Deck and Pat Doksa, owner, for an additional four years beginning in mid-March. The authority will receive a 1.5 percent increase, annually, over the length of the agreement and Doksa will assume responsibility for the interior maintenance of the area of DuBois Regional Airport occupied by the restaurant.
• authorized a month-to-month lease for office space with L. Lynn Smith, insurance agent, at a cost of $140 per month that includes utilities.
• said it should have an estimate in August for a heating/cooling rooftop unit for the area occupied by The Flight Deck restaurant to replace a unit that was installed in the 1970s.
• hired Lee Simpson Engineers Inc., DuBois, to perform phase one that includes engineering and design for a two phase project to replace the computer system and software that operates the airport's water treatment plant, replace the security and fire alarm system and purchase a snow removal vehicle to replace one that is 11 years old. The company will be paid $46,086.68 with 95 percent of the cost covered by the Federal Aviation Administration and 2.5 percent, each, paid by the state Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation and the authority through its passenger facilities charge.
The authority canceled its July meeting. Its next meeting is Aug. 24 at 8:30 a.m. at DuBois Regional Airport.