In less than three months under the banner of Sun Air Express, Bradford Regional Airport has seen more passengers board flights than at larger airports in Altoona, Lancaster and Hagerstown, Md.
That announcement came from airport director Alicia Dankesreiter at a meeting Wednesday of the airport authority board.
She explained the local airport is outranking with enplanements compared to other airports in the Sun Air Express system. The Bradford facility provides daily flights to Pittsburgh for $29.
The good news keeps coming for the airport, which initially saw a slow start with Sun Air Express. Things have quickly turned around for the facility.
In April, the airport saw 204 enplanements (passengers boarding an aircraft) and 192 deplanements — which Sun Air Express station manager Ryan Dach calls a “relatively good month.”
“If you look at April of last year with Silver Airways doing business as United Express that’s an increase of 18 passengers from the year before,” he said. “And now we’re almost through May here — we will finish May ahead of April, and right now I am projecting about 55 enplanements over May of last year.”
He expects May to finish at a minimum of 225 outbound flights.
“If we hit the golden 250 that would be great,” Dach said. “But we’re going to fall a little short of that.”
By June, Dach said, he is hoping the airport “will be where we need to be,” in terms of the government’s perspective.
Dach has a good feeling as to what June will bring for the airport, he said.
Dach is finding that many passengers are from the Kane and St. Marys areas — locations south of Bradford — who have plans for Pittsburgh flights. They are getting tickets last minute at the Bradford Airport, he said.
Looking at 2014 and to have reached more than 50 enplanements is something, Dach said.
“That’s a lot,” Dach said. “That really is. So the business is moving along.”
At the meeting Wednesday, Joe Fadden, state field representative for U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., said he enjoyed hearing how well the airport is faring.
“I’m not sure about your neighborhood to the south. I mean, they’re working on theirs, too, but this airport here has always been a jewel. You guys do nice work,” he said.
Fadden said he is “glad to see things are really coming around now.”
In the coming days, the airport is planning a marketing blitz, which would include 13 billboards covering three counties. Newspaper and radio advertising is also planned.
Officials also hope to market the airport in the Bradford area in 2015.
Part of the upcoming promotion would be offering Pirates tickets with the purchase of a plane ticket, Dankesreiter said.
“We’ve lined up a lot of stuff, and I think it will definitely be a blitz,” Dankesreiter said. “You’ll see a lot of this come out at the same time, in early summer.”
Also at the airport, officials continue looking into bringing on a national chain for rental cars.
Business is going well, but Dankesreiter said demand exceeds supply. Zook Motors of Kane has provided the vehicles.
“We did have to turn away several customers last weekend because they just couldn’t keep up,” she said.
The meeting also included an announcement that bids for the Taxiway D pavement work would be opened June 5. The project calls to mill and overlay about 600 feet of pavement; federal transportation funding in the amount of $150,000 would be used for the work.
In other news, airport facilities manager David Thomas said airport officials are working with the Federal Correctional Institution-McKean to have inmates help with work around the airport, mainly with line painting.
The effort is cost effective, he said, and the airport would supply the items.
Also with airport aesthetics, a memorial is planned to be placed at the right-hand entrance of the airport. That area would include a plaque, mulch, trees, shrubs and flowers.
Officials also announced positive results of a FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) inspection last week. Among findings include airfield painting work.
Meanwhile, the authority also approved a contract with Baker Tilly for $12,500 to $15,000 to complete a 2014 airport audit. Last year, that expense cost about $11,000.