MOUNT ALTON — July and August were record-breaking months for passenger traffic at the Bradford Regional Airport.
In his airline report for the Bradford Regional Airport Authority Wednesday, Ryan Dach, Bradford station manager and manager of stations for Southern Air Express, the low-fare regional commuter airline serving Bradford with direct flights to Pittsburgh, noted that during August there were 458 passengers enplaned and 427 deplaned, making it the busiest August since 2014 when Southern Air Express started serving the airport. That averages to 16.7 passengers per day. All 106 scheduled flights were completed.
These numbers follow the July figures, 907 passengers, which were busiest ever over the same period.
“August was another phenomenally high month,” Dach said.
Airline data provided to the authority members and the media Wednesday, showed that American Airlines remains the most popular carrier for passengers who continue on their trips from Pittsburgh. Southwest ranks second.
Thanks in large part to the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford students, Bradford continues to be the most popular address of passengers leaving from the Mount Alton airport. Kane and Smethport are again second and third, respectively.
Dallas-Fort Worth is the most popular final destination for passengers flying out of Bradford, followed by Atlanta and Denver.
Airport engineer Brian Wolfel of GAI Consultants reported on the status of several airport projects that are slated to begin this fall. “A pre-bid meeting is scheduled for Sept. 17 on the terminal rehabilitation work,” he said. “That work that amounts to about $1.2 million is to be funded by a 75 percent grant from the Bureau of Aviation in the Pennsylvania Department of Aviation and 25 percent local money.”
This renovation project will include new floors, ceilings, restrooms and LED lighting, plus terminal facade upgrades and some landscaping.
The Runway Bar and Grill is not part of the renovations.
The other project is the crack sealing and marking of Runway 14-32, the longer of the two runways.
In other business, authority members approved an agreement to execute the contract with Cummins Construction for the Federal Aviation Administration-funded runway obstruction removal project. This cost is $88,913.
Each of these jobs should take 30 days.
Authority members accepted the 2018 airport audit report, which showed no findings.
Airport Manager Alicia Dankesreiter led a discussion about the federal Essential Air Service, a subsidy program that issues funding under two-year contracts for serving minimally profitable markets.
Unless granted a waiver, airports qualify for EAS by averaging 10 enplanements per day and a per passenger subsidy of under $200.
In an effort to keep authority members aware of the happenings with the EAS, Dankesreiter noted that the U.S. Department of Transportation has announced it is ending the EAS at the Franklin and Hagerstown, Md., airports.
“We’re sensing a definite change in trends within the DOT allowing for non-compliant cities to be removed from the program,” Dankesreiter said. “In previous years, DOT was open to hearing from communities and granting waivers, but there seems to be a move away from that.”
During the discussion, the members reviewed the airport and airline marketing efforts to increase passenger traffic, such as media advertising, ticket promotions, outreaches to the business community and chambers of commerce.
Continued emphasis should be placed on informing the public of the airport’s advantages and Southern Air Express’ low fares. Warren and Potter counties and Olean, N.Y., could be potential markets.