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Tri-State Airport finances OK, despite loss of Delta

Jun. 21, 2013 @ 07:19 AM

HUNTINGTON — As it gets closer to the end of its fiscal year, Huntington Tri-State Airport is well ahead of budget, though enplanements are down 8.2 percent from the previous fiscal year, airport officials told the Tri-State Airport Authority Thursday at its monthly meeting.

The loss of Delta Airlines in May 2012 accounts for much of the decline in passengers, but the airport set a conservative budget for both last year and the upcoming year.

The authority approved the 2013-14 budget, for which the airport and its budget committee decided to again take a safe approach. It’s hard to say what the airline industry will be like next week, let alone next year, said Jerry Brienza, executive director of the airport. Federal funding is expected to be tight next year as well, he said.

Allegiant Airline’s Myrtle Beach and Tampa flights are “excellent,” Brienza said. Allegiant is adding six additional flights this June over last June. Fort Lauderdale flights are strong again, he said. However, Allegiant is likely to discontinue flights from Fort Lauderdale after this summer, Brienza said, and he’s not sure if they’ll start up again next year.

He said the load factor is strong from Huntington, at 92 percent, but the ancillary packages aren’t selling well across the Allegiant system, he said.

“I don’t see them coming back after August (this year),” Brienza said. “I’ve talked to them about next year.”

In the meantime, the airport is still making efforts to pursue a new airline to replace Delta, or a new destination from U.S. Airways. He said the airport has expressed strong interest in Chicago and Washington, but also would be open to Philadelphia and New York.

In other business, the board approved an agreement to pay Kimley Horn and Associates $592,416 for construction observation and administration services for the planned taxiway project, which involves renovations and bringing it up to the latest federal codes.

That project, which is to be covered 90 percent by federal funds and 10 percent by state money, went to bid Wednesday, but the lowest bid came in $1 million over budget, Brienza said. The airport will reach out to seek additional funds for that, he said.

The terminal upgrades are wrapped up, and repair work to a slide on the airport property is nearing completion as well, he said.




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