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Senate's passage of bill lifts hopes for airport
September 20, 2011
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  • By: The Associated Press September 16, 2011
    By Tracy Eddy
    The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.
    McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
    Sept. 16–The Senate passed a bill Thursday temporarily extending federal aviation and highway programs. The bill extends the Federal Aviation Administation’s (FAA) operating authority through January.
    The House passed the bill Tuesday.
    Earlier this week, The Morgantown Municipal Airport received a grant from the FAA to fund capital improvements.
    Morgantown was awarded $631,000 through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP). City Manager Terrence Moore said the money would be used to purchase de-icing equipment and to convert a small runway into a taxiway.
    FAA spokeswoman Marcia Alexander-Adams said an airport doesn’t have to offer commercial service to get a grant through the administration’s AIP.
    Adams said AIP is entirely separate from the federal program that funds commercial air service — Essential Air Service (EAS).
    The administration uses several factors to determine which airports receive AIP grants, she said, including the projects the grant will be used for and the level of service the airport offers.
    Adams said there are more than 3,300 airports in the United States that don’t offer commercial air service and are still eligible to receive AIP grants.
    The Dominion Post asked West Virginia’s federal lawmakers for their comments on why Morgantown’s airport would get an improvement grant if its EAS funds could be cut. Some pointed out the grant and EAS are unrelated.
    A spokeswoman for Sen. Joe Manchin’s office said, “It would be wrong to deny the Morgantown airport an infrastructure grant that will improve the facility and help boost the economy in the region.”
    Andrew Beckner, a spokesman for Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s office said, “Senator Rockefeller has and will continue to support commercial air service and economic development at small airports, including Morgantown.”
    Rep. David McKinley said Morgantown has a great airport that encourages job providers to invest in the state.
    “It was great news to hear Morgantown Municipal Airport received this well deserved 1/8AIP3/8 grant,” he said. “It only reiterated what we in West Virginia know: Morgantown has a state of the art facility that is worth investing in. I am hopeful to see this airport continue to receive funding in the future.”
    Adams said the money funding the recently awarded AIP grants was set aside in the budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

    Date: 2011-09-16