Small Pa. airports: Service normal

Associated Press


Small airports in Pennsylvania reported normal air service Monday despite a standoff in Congress that partially shut down the Federal Aviation Administration and threatened subsidies for airlines that provide service to small cities.

Dozens of airport construction projects nationwide are on hold and thousands of federal employees are not working because the legislation failed to pass and the FAA’s operating authority expired at midnight Friday.

Nearly 4,000 FAA employees were furloughed over the weekend, but air traffic controllers are unaffected because of the nature of their jobs.

Barry Centini, director of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, said the shutdown hasn’t affected service there at all.

Construction on the new $18 million control tower stopped, but it wasn’t scheduled to be completed until the summer of 2012 anyway, he said.

Another part of the dispute in Congress concerns subsidies for airlines that serve 13 small airports across the country —including Franklin/Oil City, Johnstown, Bradford, and Lancaster in Pennsylvania.

But managers at those airports told The Associated Press that service is normal, and two airlines that receive the subsidies said they aren’t planning any changes at the moment.

Flights will continue operating out of small airports, said Mickey Bowman, vice president at Gulf Stream International Airlines of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

None of the current political disputes are going to cause imminent disruptions, he said. In fact, business has been picking up for the company.

“Business travel is certainly starting to recuperate, and the travel climate has certainly improved over the last six to nine months,” Bowman told the AP.

Trish Lorino, director of marketing for Cape Air of Hyannis, Mass., said the company is closely monitoring the standoff in Congress.

“In the meantime, we’re continuing as normal,” she said.

But all the headlines about an FAA shutdown do worry travelers and impact business, said Otho Bell, manager of the Franklin/Oil City airport.

“People get worried, they read all this. It would be nice to see it resolved,” Bell said.