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"Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Airport Sees Rise in Passengers, Advertising Costs"
Friday, May 21, 2004
Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Airport Sees Rise in Passengers, Advertising Costs
The Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times Leader
PITTSTON TWP. -- The number of passengers is up at the
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport but so is the cost to
attract them, airport officials said Thursday.
The addition of Vacation Express airline and increases by other carriers
in April boosted the number of people boarding planes at the airport by
34.9 percent from April 2003, according to figures released at the
monthly meeting of the airport board.
The number of passengers grew by 5.5 percent, from 17,546 to 18,514,
from March to April 2004. But the airport still lost more than $30,000
for the month, due, in part, to increased advertising costs.
"We're not out of the woods yet, but we're on our way back up, " Wy
Gowell, assistant airport director and business manager, told the six
commissioners from Lackawanna and Luzerne counties who make up the
The last time the airport reported a monthly profit was in 2002, Gowell
Getting back up to profitability is costing the airport. It spent
$50,747 last month for special project ads and marketing on top of the
$10,300 for general ads and marketing. The expenses contributed to a
monthly loss of $31,285, according to figures Gowell provided the board.
Up to April of this year the airport had spent $214,868 on advertising
and that expense offset increased revenues and cuts in other costs,
The airport might boost revenues by constructing more hangars, Frank
Paczewski, president of Tech Aviation, the fixed base operator at the
airport, told the board Thursday. That would grow the general aviation
sector that is separate from the commercial side of the airport.
An expansion of the company's flight school, possibly with the addition
of a $200,000 flight simulator, and growth in charter operations could
also increase revenues, he said.
The company provides $200,000 annually in commissions to the airport,
pays approximately $1.2 million in salaries and has nearly $5 million in
sales. Annually, the company provides approximately 3.5 million gallons
"We're really the service station for the airport," he said, offering a
general description of the company's role as a "fixed base operator."
"We support the airport in any fashion we can," Paczewski said.
Board members agreed to look into the prospect of building hangars, but
Barry Centini, airport director, advised them the completion of the
airport expansion takes priority. "You know what's number one here."
Work continues on the new $35 million terminal building, the second
phase of the airport expansion. The parking garage and lots and road
network, which make up phase one, are nearly complete.
The board authorized bidding for the last stage of the terminal project,
the renovation, construction and paving of the airport apron for the
parking and movement of planes. Bids will likely be solicited within the
next two months.
The board also approved the new recruitment and hiring policy.
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