If you want to fly out of the little airport in Ogdensburg today, you’re going to squeeze in to one of those little puddle jumpers to one destination, Albany. You can then continue on with Cape Air to Boston.
But by winter next year, you may be able to book a sunny getaway direct to South Carolina or Florida. Ogdensburg’s airport is ready to break ground next month on an expansion officials say will bring thousands of new travelers to Ogdensburg, many of them Canadians.
Last year, the airport signed a deal with discount carrier Allegiant Airlines to fly twice weekly to Myrtle Beach and Orlando. Allegiant said it would even pay up to $1 million towards renovating the airport’s passenger terminal.
The deal hinged on extending the runway to allow Allegiant’s 177-passenger Airbus planes to land and take off. Late last week, U.S. senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced $7.5 million in federal funding to get that project underway.
“It’s really going to blow the doors off and open up some new opportunities for business here,” said Wade Davis, who directs the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, which runs the airport. Davis said the project will be good for the economy because his studies show the flights will attract 38,000 Canadian travellers. He points to a study by the Conference Board of Canada that says over 5 million Canadians per year fly from U.S. airports, often looking for cheaper flights. “You don’t have to look very far to see this is a proven example;” wade said.. You can look at Plattsburgh. You can look at Niagara Falls, and Buffalo.”
Davis said while flying in and out of Ogdensburg, they’ll spend money there. “They’ll eat in local restaurants and patronize local businesses. Let’s say they only buy a Pepsi and a tank of gas, that’s a huge economic impact right there.”
According to Davis, the expansion will more than double employment at the airport. The overall project will cost about $26 million, much of that coming from additional federal funds. The OBPA will take out loans so it can fast-track construction.
The first step will be to re-route State Highway 68 to make room for the longer runway. Davis said that should start in October. The plan calls for Allegiant to kick off its Ogdensburg-Myrtle Beach and Ogdensburg-Orlando service by November 2016.