Moore speaks to Rotary about airport

PARKERSBURG – Members of the Parkersburg Rotary Club were reminded Monday how much business the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport brings into the area.

“We’re the gateway for a lot of businesses coming into the area,” said airport manager Terry Moore.

He announced the airport recently signed a contract with a U.S. Army base in Norfolk, Va., to be a hurricane evacuation site for 12 helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft in the event of a storm.

“This means, while the airport houses the aircraft, between 100 and 150 people will be coming into our area, staying at our hotels, eating at our restaurants,” Moore said. “It’s new business the airport has been able to bring in.”

The increase of traffic from the natural gas and fracking industry was mentioned as Moore said he believes those in that business have helped the airport with fuel sales this year.

“We don’t ask where people are coming from, but a lot of the planes coming in have Texas flags on them,” he said.

Last week two private planes carrying 17 people landed at the airport, had chartered buses pick them up and they toured the area viewing possible drill sites.

“They stayed overnight, so that is 17 hotel rooms and all of those meals before they left the following afternoon,” Moore said. “So it’s not just the airport seeing business from fuel sales; the community is also seeing the impact.”

Moore used his time at the Rotary luncheon to thank the local officials and individuals who supported the airport during the recent air traffic control tower funding issues.

“Through this I received a great deal of support from a lot of people and organizations,” he said. “Not only were mayors Bob Newell and Randy Rapp very receptive to my asking for funds but I also heard from various business people who offered money to help.

“It was very refreshing to get that outpouring of support,” Moore said.

The need for local money to keep the airport’s control tower open through this fiscal year ended Friday when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it would continue to provide the funding.

The local tower, along with another 148 towers across the country, was scheduled to close June 15 as part of the FAA’s required $637 million budget cuts through the sequestration.

Funding for the towers, which are contracted through three companies and paid for by the FAA, was reinstated following the rearranging of existing Airport Improvement Project (AIP) funds following last month’s passage of funding bills by both houses of Congress to clear up air traffic controller furlough issues.

“The controllers’ issues helped clear up the towers’ funding because with the extra funds the FAA was allowed to move to pay for the controllers, they were able to keep the towers going,” Moore said.

Although the local tower will remain open for now, Moore said the issues are far from finished.

“The tower issues, while gone away Friday, will come back Sept. 30,” he said. “We are going to have to keep an eye on the upcoming federal budget and hope the funding is in there for next year.”