By LARRY ROBINSON
City Council members are lauding an announcement that Allegiant Air could be offering passenger service from an expanded Ogdensburg International Airport in as little as two years as a catalyst that could spawn economic growth throughout the region.
“I see this only as a positive. I think we’re on the brink of doing great things in Ogdensburg,” said Councilman William D. Hosmer. “I think down the line this can be a catalyst for growth in our whole region, not just for Ogdensburg.”
Councilwoman Jennifer Stevenson agrees. She envisions a resurgence in economic activity and a boon to the local tax base in the form of new hotels, restaurants and other unforseen benefits that could come as the result of increased exposure to the area.
“It’s going to be good. It will mean more traffic, more businesses and I think more exposure for Ogdensburg,” said Ms. Stevenson. “I think we are now moving in the right direction.”
The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority announced Monday that it had approved a contract with Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air to provide passenger service to and from Ogdensburg International Airport - a move that could increase air passenger service at the facility by as many as 40,000 people a year.
The contract goes hand in hand with an ambitious OBPA project to expand the airport runway in Ogdensburg by approximately 2,000 feet, and to offer incentives for larger airline companies like Allegiant to use the facility.
Allegiant Air operates in 98 cities, including Plattsburgh and Syracuse, and utilizes aircraft capable of seating more than 200 passengers.
Councilman Daniel E. Skamperle described Monday’s Allegiant Air deal as an “awesome” opportunity for the north country as a whole. He said access to and from the region has always been problematic and costly for travelers and business developers alike. He hopes expanded passenger service in Ogdensburg will create an economic ripple across a large chunk of Northern New York.
“Ogdensburg is right on a major trade route with our biggest trading partner, which is Canada,” said Mr. Skamperle. “Now I’d like to see a highway. Id love to have 1-98 as well.”
To help ensure continued prosperity at the Ogdensburg International Airport, the OBPA has begun a four-year commercial air carrier incentive program aimed at encouraging commercial carriers to use the facility. The incentive program is specifically designed to attract large, 150-seat aircraft needing a longer runway for landings and takeoff. As part of the incentive, the OBPA plans to waive a year’s worth of landing fees for airlines starting new routes that include Ogdensburg.