Officials provided an update on a 55 million dollar terminal expansion plan for the Plattsburgh International Airport this morning.
The Plattsburgh International Airport was created from the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. The terminal was opened in 2007. The county, which owns the facility, has begun a major expansion of the terminal and surrounding grounds.
The FAA Military Airports Program provides funding to refurbish former military facilities, and since its inception the airport has received nearly 25 million dollars to develop the airport and adjacent industrial park. Clinton County Legislator Jimmy Langley, Chair of the Airport Committee, said due to programs like that, the expansion will not burden the taxpayers. “We promised that we wouldn’t do this on the taxpayers back. And we haven’t. Obviously you see the parking lot. We have a reasonable rate and we generate a tremendous amount of money from that. Because of our enplanements we get a Passenger Facility Charge and it allows us to have entitlement money which we put back into our airport.”
Physical renovations to the terminal building have begun. They include increasing the number of ticket counters from three to seven and adding queuing space. One gate bridge for passenger boarding currently exists. Plattsburgh International Airport Manager Chris Kreig explained that the new design will provide three gate bridges with an option for a fourth, plus eight gates. “What’s happening right now is we are building out a portion for baggage screening. At the same time we’re doing that we expect to start pouring foundations and footings for the concourse area. While at the same time that’s going on we’re also going to be doing some work inside the building. Where we were this morning in the conference room will now become the checkpoint. In the lobby area we’re going to be adding baggage claim space. We’re going to be adding car rental spaces. We’re going to be adding a small concessionaire space. Basically the entire terminal in some way shape or form is being touched by this project.”
The majority of passengers are from Montreal, about an hour north. The airport markets heavily to Canadians and bills itself as Montreal’s U.S. airport, piggy-backing on an economic development strategy labeling Plattsburgh as Montreal’s U.S. suburb, according to Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas. “Plattsburgh International Airport is primarily a secondary airport for Montreal. That is how we thought about it from the beginning. Montreal was, until we came along, the last major metropolitan city in North America that did not have a single secondary airport. We did not pay for this quote but we love to use it. The president and CEO of Air Canada last year was quoted in the Montreal Gazette: ‘Plattsburgh is Quebec’s fastest growing airport.’ Thank you.”
The airport’s current carriers — Allegiant, PennAir and Spirit Airlines — presented an overview of their companies and operations.
Officials are pursuing international service, and the refurbished terminal includes a customs facility.
The renovation of the Plattsburgh International Airport terminal will take 18 to 24 months and is expected to be completed by early to mid-2016.