DUBOIS – A new era is dawning for the DuBois Regional Airport, one that will likely mean less funding from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Because the airport is projected to end the year with about 8,500 passengers using the airport in 2006. Because that number fell below 10,000, the airport is no longer eligible for $1 million in guaranteed funds the airport could use for certain projects if it would like to do so. The change means the airport is only entitled to $150,000, but it can obtain other funds, although it must compete with other airports of in the state.
“That changes everything,” said David Parker of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Aviation.
The designation change is actually a switch from a “primary” to a “non-primary” entitlement.
“In an airport like this … I can’t emphasize how huge a deal that is,” he said.
DuBois is not alone in feeling the crunch when it comes to passenger numbers. Parker said large Pennsylvania airports such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are the only ones that aren’t struggling. Airports such as Wilkes-Barre, State College and Erie are holding their own.
Parker did have one suggestion to the DuBois-Jefferson Regional Airport Authority at their meeting last week. He said that members should begin to lobby their federal legislators for a change.
The current rule is that if an airport sees 9,999 passengers in a year, they still fall away from the $1 million entitlement.
“It’s going to take effort to bring this to their attention,” Parker said.
The money awarded to airports comes from a tax paid on airplane passengers’ tickets,” said Robert Shaffer, airport manager.
Parker said the airport can “bank” their $150,000 for each of up to three years if a larger project is planned.
Even if the airport does not meet the 10,000-passenger goal, Shaffer said there is nothing on the facility’s five-year plan that would qualify for more than the $150,000 reimbursement from the FAA. Such projects also have a state and local share that must also be in place.