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To succeed, airport have to be keen to alter course

The already bumpy journey to an prolonged runway on the Morgantown Municipal Airport has gotten much more turbulent. What was initially predicted as a 5-year, $50 million enterprise has swiftly ballooned to seven years and $70 million — and we suspect these numbers will proceed to develop.

It appears each time the venture builds momentum, the cash dries up and progress grinds to a halt.

The Federal Aviation Administration has repeatedly shortchanged the Morgantown Municipal Airport in favor of upper precedence initiatives. However the airport hasn’t helped itself by leaving out there federal {dollars} on the desk. The FAA frequently allocates infrastructure {dollars} based mostly on an airport’s enplanements (variety of paying prospects who boarded a aircraft). Falling wanting the ten,000 minimal cuts an airport’s annual Airport Enchancment Fund allocation from $1 million to $150,000. Morgantown hasn’t hit 10,000 enplanements since 2011. That’s left $4.25 million on the desk simply within the final 4 years.

Not all of the blame may be positioned on the airport itself. Silver Airways, which took over because the important air service in 2012, was infamously unreliable, frequently canceling 30% or extra of its flights. So Morgantown airport switched to Southern Airways Categorical. Southern has been extra dependable, frequently finishing 75% to 100% of its flights. However the airport’s status was already broken.

Right here’s the conundrum: The airport wants an extended runway so as to supply bigger business flights and extra choices, however it wants funding to try this. Individuals don’t like to make use of Morgantown’s airport due to its small planes, restricted choices and what folks nonetheless consider is its unreliable service. With out folks utilizing the airport, the airport can’t safe the funding it wants to complete making enhancements, so it could solely proceed with its restricted choices — and folks proceed to keep away from it.

So how can we cease this cycle?

Individuals can begin utilizing the Morgantown Municipal Airport extra usually, however the onus is actually on the airport. It and Southern have to enhance the standard and reliability of the companies they do supply. That’s not only a matter of not canceling flights. It’s additionally a matter of constructing the airport a snug place to be and making transportation simply out there to and from the airport.

The Metropolis of Morgantown, as sole proprietor and operator, ought to take into account creating an airport authority along side the county and surrounding municipalities. 

A thriving airport would profit your entire Better Morgantown Space. A greater native airport could be a promoting level for bringing nationwide occasions and competitions to Mylan Park. Locals might catch flights to extra locations — like Myrtle Seaside. Opposing groups and WVU followers might fly straight into city from all around the nation for recreation days. Plus, Better Morgantown might higher market itself to vacationers as each a vacation spot and start line for regional adventures.

Making the county in addition to Westover, Star Metropolis and Granville stakeholders within the airport might open extra funding alternatives that may enable enhancements to get completed sooner.

To cease the cycle, enterprise can’t proceed as standard. However Morgantown and the airport have to be keen to alter course.