County Executive Greg Edwards is right in thinking it makes sense to privatize the Chautauqua County Airport in Dunkirk.
The airport is a general aviation airport, which means people fly in and out with their private planes. The Dunkirk airport is underutilized by those it seeks to serve and not developed enough to attract commercial flights. Its future seems doomed to either losing money or, at best, breaking even.
The Jamestown airport hasn't exactly been a lucrative proposition over its recent history, losing $3.637 million from 2006-10. The Dunkirk airport lost only $774,977 over the same period. But Edwards and Sam Arcadipane, county airports manager, think there is a future for the Jamestown airport given its Essential Air Service designation, which keeps commercial air service coming through the airport. Finding a way to boost the Jamestown airport's passenger count from the current 4,500 a year to 10,000 a year could net the airport hundreds of thousands of additional money in Airport Improvement Grants - money that could be used to further improve the airport.
Money to make such advances in Jamestown likely will have to be paid for with money spent to operate the Dunkirk airport, which is why Arcadipane and Edwards agree it is best to privatize the Dunkirk airport and use county money solely to make the Jamestown airport the best it can be.
Unfortunately, George Spanos, county public facilities director, recently told county legislators no interested parties have approached the county to buy the facility. Still, that doesn't change the fact the county should continue marketing the facility. There was a time when it made sense for the county to operate airports in the north and south county - but that time has long since passed.