Friday, September 25, 2020

Plattsburgh International receives $8.6 million grant

Plattsburgh International Airport was awarded $8,616,132 by the U.S. Department of Transportation to continue the major renovations and expansion of the airport’s terminals.

According to a press release from Senator Charles Schumer’s office, the money will be put toward a project that entails expanding the size of the passenger terminal by adding extra space for ticket counters and security checkpoints.

Additional space will also be included for the baggage claim area and boarding gates.

A portion of the grant will supplement the continued expansion of the customs facility, a project that has been underway for a year and a half, according to Plattsburgh International Airport Manager Chris Krieg.

The renovations will serve to encourage international travel through Plattsburgh as well as simplify the process.

The existing terminals, which were built in 2007, were designed to accommodate about 50,000 passengers per year. Krieg said the airport processed about 300,000 passengers last year — approximately 150,000 departing and 150,000 arriving.

“We are addressing the immediate issues,” Krieg said. “This expansion will make a much smoother passenger flow, and make it easier to get to ticket counters and pass through checkpoints.”

The continued expansion of Plattsburgh International Airport may also influence tourism in the area.

“We would like to see Plattsburgh as a destination,” Krieg said. Working in close collaboration with the North Country Chamber of Commerce, Krieg said the airport is striving to inform people about the attractions the North Country has to offer, including the Adirondacks and its convenient proximity to Montreal.

Peter Ensel, interim chair of the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management Program at Plattsburgh State, considers the expansion to be a positive for the North Country that has a “heavy reliance on tourism” to support the economy.

Ensel, who received his bachelor’s from PSUC, also said he thinks the project “would make Plattsburgh International more attractive for commercial flights.”

With the advancement of this project also comes the possibility of more available flight times. For international students, this could mean a more convenient traveling experience.

Krieg said the North Country Chamber of Commerce, which handles marketing for Plattsburgh International, is actively engaged in exploring both domestic and international services for the airport.

According to North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas in the governor’s press release, he and other Chamber members had scheduled a flight to Chicago the following week after the grant was awarded. While there, they planned to meet with international airlines in order to inform them about the expansion.

“And this is all possible,” added Douglas in the release, “due to remarkable teamwork by a county legislature with vision and commitment, an enthusiastic business community that supports the mission and the marketing efforts, and all of our federal and state officials who continue to come through with the resources required.”

Both Plattsburgh International Airport and the Chamber want to be in a “position to be able to support” new endeavors, Krieg added. “We are between a rock and a hard place until the expansion is complete.”

Email Thomas Marble at thomas.marble@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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