Airport\’s passenger numbers up

Date: February 28, 2011

JERRY LYNOTT jlynott@timesleader.com

PITTSTON TWP. – Passenger numbers at the Wilkes-Barre%2FScranton+International+Airport%22>Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in October approached a total reached 11 years ago, and the airport director Thursday said airlines are taking notice.

Last month 21,349 people boarded airplanes and the number was 19.6 percent higher in a year-earlier comparison. But when arriving and departing numbers were combined, the total was 41,856, said Director Barry Centini.

“That has been the best number since October of 1999,” he told the airport\’s bi-county board of commissioners at its monthly meeting.

At that time the total was approximately 44,000.

“We are getting a lot of traffic. Again, it\’s gas industry people,” said Centini of the workers in the Marcellus Shale natural gas fields in the northern and northeastern counties of the state.

The traffic could increase with the possibility of US Air adding flights to Charlotte and Philadelphia and the resumption of service to Atlanta by Delta Air Lines.

The airline had daily non-stop service to Atlanta until August 2009. Centini said he hopes the Atlanta flights are restored and Delta increases service to Detroit.

“We\’ve been down to talk to Delta last week,” he said. “They were very surprised at our numbers.”

The other airlines contacted by the airport are “well aware of what\’s happening here,” Centini said.

Since June, the monthly boardings have increased in year-earlier comparisons. Since August there have been double-digit percentage increases, he added.

“The numbers are growing,” said Centini. “We hope that they continue on right to 2011 and beyond.”

As the passenger numbers increase so does the need for additional parking spaces. The airport is undertaking a “very modest study” on adding 100 to 150 more, said Centini. One of the plans he described calls for moving the employee lot and converting it to one that will be automated to accept credit cards or allows passengers to pay cash inside the terminal at a machine.

The parking revenues helped with the airport finances in October, when the airport reported a net operating income of $48,741.

Also contributing to the net income was a profit made by the airport from the replacement of lighting fixtures in seven buildings. It contributed 5 percent of the replacement cost and the remainder was paid with a grant from the state. As a result, the airport received $14,616 through the PPL Electric Utility E-Power Rebate Program. When the airport cost of about $2,053 was subtracted from the rebate, the profit was about $12,562, said Centini.

But as of the end of October, the airport was operating at a net loss of $121,837.

Airport board member and Luzerne County Commissioner Steve Urban asked that the airport solicitors change the original 1946 agreement that created the board so that it complies with the home rule charter adopted by county voters on Nov. 2. Until the charter takes effect in January 2012, there is a transition stage.

“Right now the agreement between Luzerne and Lackawanna counties says the commissioners of both counties sit on this board. That has to be amended,” said Urban.

Under the charter, Luzerne County\’s representatives on the board will be the county manager, county council chair and a council member chosen by a majority vote of the council.

 

Copyright: Times Leader

 

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.