To The Editor:
Several years ago, we received a survey regarding the viability of expanding the runway length at Blue Earth Airport as well as adding an adjacent taxiway. We were pleased to see the process beginning as the current runway length of 3,399 feet limits our ability to access the airport and the lack of an adjacent taxiway can be a dangerous situation. Currently, we are only able to utilize the airport on clear days when there is no possibility of precipitation or icing due to the short runway length.
Besides our role as an air charter company, Seneca Flight Operations has a contractual agreement with Yates County, New York to operate the Penn Yan Airport in a rural area of Upstate New York. Interestingly enough, Penn Yan airport went through a similar expansion in the 1990s – so we can offer a unique perspective on what investment in an airport expansion can deliver to a community besides increased aviation safety.
In the early 1990s, Penn Yan Airport had one 3526 foot runway with no taxiway. Like Blue Earth, local officials saw expansion of the airport as an opportunity to increase safety as well as business opportunities in the area. Today, Penn Yan Airport has two runways – our second runway is 5,500 feet long – and operations have increased greatly since the addition of the second runway. Aircraft once required to travel to Elmira, Syracuse or Rochester due to airport size limitations can now land in Penn Yan – and with those aircraft comes local spending on hotels, restaurants and other services. Additionally, many local businesses now utilize the airport for customers, deliveries and other services.
Overall, the results of the airport expansion in Penn Yan have been positive for everyone. According to a report released by Yates County in 2001, the expansion of the airport produced the following results for the local economy:– A total airport payroll of almost $4 million, five times what was generated in 1990
– More than 300 percent increase in aviation related jobs over the same time period
– Overnight visitors to the airport spent more than $130,000 locally for lodging, food and purchases in 2001
– An additional $4.6 million in economic activity was generated by the airport throughout the region, representing nearly 20 more jobs
For more details, this report can be accessed online at http://www.yatescounty.org/upload/12/292.pdf
In summary, our experience with an investment in airport extension would tend to support positive economic results for the community at large as well as providing safer aviation.
President & Airport Manager
Seneca Flight Operations
Penn Yan/Yates County Airport
Penn Yan, New York