Plattsburgh International Airport enters second year of operation

PLATTSBURGH Its been a year since the grand opening of Plattsburgh International Airport, with local officials considering it a development that has really taken off. Garry F. Douglas, president of the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce, said the airport has had a surprisingly higher number of people utilizing the airport than had been anticipated when discussions began more than six years ago. That success, said Douglas, is due largely to support from Canadian air travelers, who make up 85 percent of enplanements for carriers such as Allegiant Air at the Plattsburgh airport. Allegiant, he noted has also had nearly 100 percent of its seats filled on each flight, which is something Douglas said was almost unheard of in the airline industry. Were very much ahead of where we wouldve hoped wed be at this point, in several regards, said Douglas. The level of awareness and enthusiasm that we are seeing in Montreal, both in the general population and in the business community, tells us that weve made remarkable progress in terms of connecting this airport to the key audiences in Montreal. The general population, Douglas explained, drives the development of Plattsburgh Internationals air service, while aerospace and transportation-related companies will further the job-creating, economic development side. While the airport is seeing more than favorable business today, said Douglas, those behind the airports development expected an uphill battle for the first two years. As the county was breaking into a very conservative industry with a new product, he said, the airports success was undeterminable. As service increased with Allegiant Air and Myrtle Beach Direct Air, and after some brief turbulence with Big Sky Airlines, whose air service to Boston was later replaced by Cape Air, the air service providers at Plattsburgh International seem to have found their market, said Douglas. Theyre demonstrating we can fill aircraft here and we can do it on a regular basis, said Douglas. As a result of that success, Douglas said he expects to see additional vacation destinations within the coming year. And, as the airports vacation destinations continue to be successful, he further expects the airport will be in a position to attract services to one or more hubs for general travel, such as New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. The creation of an international arrivals facility in order to offer flights across the world, which would mean establishing a full-time U.S. Customs presence in the airport, is also a possibility for Plattsburgh International, though it will require a lot of preparation. A couple years down the road, I think we can get those things in place and we can now have full confidence there will be a number of international services out of here once were ready, Douglas said. Ten years from now, Douglas envisions Plattsburgh International as an airport operation significantly expanded from what it is today. While in the future the Plattsburgh airport may still not offer all the same services as Burlington International Airport in Vermont, which already offers direct service to New York City and Washington, D.C., that doesnt mean Plattsburgh International isnt and wont be able to compete, he said. One mistake we need not to make is to compare us to other airports. Were a niche unto ourselves, Douglas said. What we want to be is the best Plattsburgh International Airport we can be. In the present, supporters of the airport are celebrating the recent release of Plattsburgh Internationals monthly on-line newsletter en francais to accommodate Americas French-speaking neighbors to the north, said Douglas. So far, 11,000 people from the Montreal area have signed up for the newest version of the newsletter, said Douglas. Thats an outstanding number in and of itself, he said. The newsletter, which is available by registering through the airport Web site, www.plattsburghinternationalairport.com, is the latest effort to appeal to the bilingual Canadian market. Information on the airport Web site, advertisements about the airport in various media outlets and signage in the airport and on Interstate 87 have already been made available in French and English.

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