Business To Support Jamestown Airport

MAYVILLE — The county’s business community has pledged the financial support needed to possibly return federal funding for commercial air service to the Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport.

George Borrello, county executive, told The Post-Journal that the business community has pledged to provide $75,000 a year in cash for three years as part of the local business community’s subsidy for the airport.

In June, Borrello, Brad Bentley, county public works director, Ron Almeter, county airport manager, and Mark Geise, Chautauqua County deputy executive for economic development, discussed the new proposal to reclaim Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidy funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a commercial air service provider at the airport.

In February, the U.S. DOT announced that it would not be restoring the EAS subsidy for commercial air service at the airport because it was perceived that the last airline failed because there was no local support. The federal government wants the local county and business community to invest in any future subsidy for commercial air service.

The U.S. DOT would like a 10% local contribution to the annual $2,980,688 subsidy provided to the commercial air service provider for three years. In June, the legislature approved a resolution that the county would fund $72,000 in cash and $52,000 through in-kind services as part of the local subsidy. As part of the proposal, county officials asked the business community to supply $75,000 in cash and $87,000 through in-kind services.

“We were able to garnish substantial support from businesses and organizations for the local share the (U.S. DOT) is looking for,” he said. “I’m proud of how the community stepped forward with their support for re-establishing EAS service at the airport.”

Borrello said county officials have not received a full pledge for the in-kind service as part of the proposal. However, he believes that by the time the U.S. DOT possibly approves the new application for EAS funding for the airport that county officials will acquire the full in-kind support needed from county businesses.

“We’re still working on the commitments for in-kind services, but we will continue to put that together while (U.S. DOT) reviews the application,” he said.

The new EAS application should be submitted to the federal government any day now, Borrello said. He said the timeline is up to the federal government to determine if the EAS subsidy will return to the county airport. He added last time it took nine months for county officials to hear back from the federal government that the EAS subsidy for the airport was denied.

“We are hoping because this is a resubmission it won’t take as long,” he said.

During an IDA meeting last month, Geise said some of the businesses that have pledged support for the local share subsidy include Cummins, Chautauqua Institution, UPMC Chautauqua and the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel.

In August, county officials held a meeting for the business community detailing the local business sponsorship program. A local business could sponsor the program by funding money to either be a silver, gold or a platinum sponsor. A silver sponsor would provide $4,000 a year while a gold sponsor would fund $8,000 and a platinum sponsor would provide $12,000.

All three levels would be recognized in different ways like signs and advertising at the airport.

County officials have partnered with Boutique Airlines on possibly bringing back commercial air service to the Jamestown airport.

In June, Almeter said Boutique Airways took over the commercial air service from Southern Airways at the Johnstown, Pa., airport, last November with the number of passengers increasing and meeting contractual goals.

The new plan for the Jamestown Airport would also include two destinations with 131 daily departures to the Pittsburgh International Airport and 279 daily departures to the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

In January 2018, the U.S. DOT terminated the EAS agreement with the Jamestown Airport due to a lack of passengers. Shortly after, Southern Airways left because of the EAS funding cut.