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Airport Authority gets sneak peek at restaurant in terminal

Nov. 16, 2012 @ 12:15 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The Tri-State Airport Authority got a look Thursday at the new restaurant in the terminal, which is expected to open before Christmas.

Replacing the former restaurant, which was destroyed by fire in March, will be a combination of Tudor's Biscuit World and Gino's Pizzeria and Pub, along with a gift shop. The project was more than $600,000, said Airport Director Jerry Brienza.

The Tudor's will be open from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Gino's starts serving at 11 a.m. Hours will be fluid. Opening and closing times may change based on flight schedules, said Greg Atkinson, the vice president of operations for Gino's.

The menu will be posted on a digital screen and transition from the morning to the afternoon and evening menu, Atkinson.

The new restaurant also features flatscreen televisions and has a 22-foot bar with a full line of liquor and beer. The kitchen has been extensively renovated as well, with new fire safety measures put in place.

"It's an exciting project for us," Atkinson said. "Tri-State Airport is a dynamic environment right now (with its flight offerings and terminal renovations). It's exciting to be part of the airport, and we look forward to a long partnership."

The gift shop will sell West Virginia items, such as books and traditional coal-miner figurines, as well as Marshall University, West Virginia University and University of Kentucky items.

Following their tour of the new restaurant, authority board members sat down for their regular monthly meeting and got an update on finances at the airport.

Finance Director Don Wiseman said October 2012 revenue was up about $900 over October 2011, but that it's down more than $55,000 for the fiscal year to date, mostly due to a decrease in car rentals and fuel sales. With the loss of Delta Airlines in May, it could be worse, but public parking revenue is strong and hangar space leases have increased, he said.

Marketing Director Beckie McKinley said the airport boarded about 8,200 people in October and that boardings were down 4 percent for the calendar year to date from 2011.

For the fiscal year to date, which began July 1, airport boardings are down 11 percent from the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

"Delta represented 19 percent of our total passengers, so you can see we've been able to retain 8 percent on US Airways, she said.

US Airways boardings are up 14 percent in 2012 over 2011.

Brienza said the airport is still actively pursuing airlines to serve as a replacement for Delta, but it's a challenging time.

"Businesses are not looking to expand or open new markets. It's a tough world out there," he said.

He also said Allegiant has been seeking information from its airports about whether they have the capability for international flights, and Brienza said that, with some minor changes, Tri-State Airport would have the capability for flights to American territories, such as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Freeport, Bahamas. One necessary change would be adding an incinerator to burn trash from those locations, which is a requirement.