Airport sees strong numbers

WILLIAMSTOWN – Passenger numbers remain high at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport with patrons continuing to use the service to Cleveland.

“Enplanements look good,” said John Pfalzgraf, vice president of the Wood County Airport Authority.

Airport manager Terry Moore said the 749 passengers who last month traveled to or through Cleveland Hopkins International Airport using the local commercial service was greater than last September’s numbers.

“We had 609 passengers last September, so this is good,” Moore said. “I don’t know how we had so many passengers because we had a lot of problems last month.”

Moore said Silver Airways, which provides 48 flights a month to Cleveland under the United Airways banner, had a number of maintenance issues, pilot problems and other negative troubles.

“These are things that you would have thought would have drug us down, but it didn’t,” Moore said.

If the number of passengers continues at the rate the airline has experienced throughout this year, the airport will have seen through 8,200 passengers in 2013, Moore said.

“We still have a long way to go to 10,000, but we are getting closer,” said board member and Wood County Commissioner Wayne Dunn.

Passenger numbers are important because airports that have at least 10,000 enplanements per year receive $1 million in federal Airport Improvement Project funds annually, airports with fewer passengers receive $150,000.

In other business:

* The Wood County Airport Authority, the managing arm of the airport, learned the fuel sales, which had experienced a surge for the past few months, declined.

“Fuel sales dropped off significantly,” Moore said. “I guess we now know the increase was because of the National Guard.”

The National Guard had been using the airport for different capacities with a number of different aircraft, including large helicopters being moved from Savannah, Ga., to Dayton. The majority of the time the military pilots stopped, they purchased fuel.

“We are grateful for the high sales and extra funds,” Moore said. “We were able to pay bills on time and put some funds back.”

In September the airport sold 24,800 gallons while more than 35,000 gallons were sold in August.

* All airport employees will participate in wildlife training next week, which will focus on the types of birds in the area.

“We don’t have a problem with gangs of birds here,” Moore said. “My major concern here for wildlife are deer and turkeys, neither of which are likely to be part of the training.”

The eight-hour class is federally mandated and will be conducted by Loomacres Wildlife Management, which did the airport’s wildlife assessment survey and report in 2010.