April 22, 2011
By Ryan D. Beardsley
PITTSTON TWP. – While the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport is still losing money, the amount is significantly less than a year ago.
The loss for the first quarter of 2011 was $19,987, compared to $174,201 lost in the first quarter of 2010, officials reported Thursday to the airport’s bicounty board of commissioners.
“A loss of $19,000 is almost like ahead for us,” airport Director Barry Centini said. “That is huge for us coming out of the winter months. It’s certainly a big plus.”
In March, the airport saw income of about $18,777, compared to a net loss in the same month last year of $57,396. Passengers boarding planes in March also increased 11.6 percent, from 16,877 in March 2010 to 18,836 this March.
In other business, Lackawanna County Commissioner A.J. Munchak’s motion to grant airport administration and management staff 3 percent pay raises died for lack of a second. Mr. Munchak conveyed his disappointment during and after the meeting.
“My colleagues are against giving the airport staff a raise,” Mr. Munchak said after the meeting. “They’ve voted for union contract raises in both Luzerne County and Lackawanna County, but won’t approve raises for the staff here.”
Luzerne County employees who belong to transportation and human services unions are set to receive 1.5 percent raises this year and 2 percent raises the following two years. Lackawanna County union wages have increased between 2 percent and 3 percent in recent contracts, and nonunion wages increased 2 percent.
Board President and Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen Urban said he had spoken to Mr. Munchak about a 2 percent raise for management, and asked that the matter be placed on the agenda for May’s regular meeting.
Also at the meeting:
– Mr. Centini told commissioners that the airport will be working on four construction projects simultaneously this summer.
Construction of a new south general aviation apron that will cost about $5.5 million will begin next week and be completed by the end of the year. Mr. Centini said the airport has received environmental approval. Popple Construction Inc. will be the main contractor.
Rehabilitation and extension of Hangar Road, estimated to cost $1.6 million, is also set to begin. L.R. Kimball Engineers is designing the project, which is set to go to bid in June or early July, Mr. Centini said. The project is to be completed by the end of the year.
A contract was awarded to KBA Engineering for an auto parking study and to design additional surface parking for a fee not to exceed $29,000. Mr. Centini said once the study is complete, he hopes for work to begin by mid-summer, adding that construction could take 60 days.
“We’re looking to see if there are parking spots that we can add to the parking garage without adding on to the garage,” Mr. Centini said. “We’ll also look at available lands for additional parking in the surface lot. That’s what the study will show us.”
Roof repair to general aviation hangars and the aviation center are also needed, Mr. Centini said. The airport will look into doing the work in-house. About $200,000 to $250,000 is available, he said. The work will begin in summer and be finished by winter.
– Quality Building Services of Dupont was awarded a one-year $32,500 contract for janitorial services.
– The airport’s contract with Smart Carte Inc., a massage chair business, was extended through June 2013. Smart Carte will pay the airport 15 percent of its sales.
– Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien’s motion to install a light so the American flag can be flown at night passed unanimously.