Thursday, February 25, 2016

Harrisburg International Airport (KMDT) OKs general aviation facility lease: Snow impact, legislative priorities also discussed

The board that oversees Harrisburg International Airport has granted permission to aviation services company Avflight to construct a new general aviation complex next to the former terminal site.

There will be 5,000 square feet of fixed base operations office space and a 30,000-square-foot hangar next to HIA's snow equipment building, Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority officials said.

General aviation refers to civil aviation other than scheduled or for-hire services. It can range from small private planes to corporate jets.

"We are pleased Avflight has decided to expand and grow their operation at HIA," said Stephen Libhart, SARAA board chairman.

"Avflight has been a long time tenant and we look forward to continuing that relationship. This new, modern FBO facility will position Avflight and HIA for future growth in the corporate and general aviation industries."

Phase 1 of the project, the construction of the office space, will begin this year, pending permit approvals. Phase 2 and the construction of the new hanger "will take place in the next few years," SARAA officials said.

In addition to general aviation services, Avflight also provides ground handling for Allegiant and Air Canada at HIA.

The lease price was not disclosed.

Gas easements approved

The board also approved the renewal of two existing Sunoco easements for natural-gas pipelines on HIA property.

Those easements are for a term of 30 years, and will generate $133,500 in revenue for the airport.

The existing easements have been in place for approximately 75 years, dating back to when the property was an active duty military installation, officials said.

Legislative priorities

The board on Wednesday voted to adopt several aviation-related legislative priorities for 2016, including:

• Supporting the state Senate Aviation Caucus to urge the U.S. Congress to increase the Passenger Facility Charge cap to $8.50 and adjust it periodically to offset impact of inflation.

• The continuation of the Airport Improvement Program and support of U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta’s amendment that would increase AIP funding and insure those funds are not diverted for FAA operations.

• Support of the FAA Contract Tower Program and for Congress to provide full and dedicated funding.

• Support of a proposal by the Regional Airline Association to address the anticipated pilot shortage.

• Support proposed legislation to expand gaming in Pennsylvania to include limited access at state airports.

• Support legislative action by the state General Assembly that requires transportation network companies to be subject to the rules, rates and charges of any commercial service airport they wish to serve.

Traffic statistics

January's snowstorm did hit passenger numbers, officials said.

The 30.2 inches of snow that fell at HIA caused airlines to cancel the majority of flights for two days, leading to a decrease in overall passengers.

The 77,191 passengers represent a 16.6 percent decrease when compared to January 2015. Cargo tonnage was down slightly with 3,992 tons, compared to 4,113 tons in January 2015.

"The major snow storm hurt our numbers in January and cost the airport around $250,000 when factoring in supplies and overtime hours," said Tim Edwards, SARAA executive director.

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