By AMANDA PURCELL
Allegiant Air will offer flights from Ogdensburg under a contract approved Monday — a development that could increase traffic by up to 40,000 passengers a year with larger jets.
Potential destinations for travelers, many of whom are expected to be Canadians crossing the border for cheaper fares, have not been announced. Representatives from Allegiant Air said they could not comment on the contract as of Monday evening.
The announcement of the new airline comes amid the planned expansion of the runway at Ogdensburg International Airport, expected to begin construction this year. The runway will be extended by 1,200 feet, and the terminal will be upgraded and hooked up to city water service.
“One of the things we realized when we looked at routes in Las Vegas is that there was a significant opportunity for the Ogdensburg airport to grow in the larger regional market,” said Wade A. Davis, executive director of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, which approved the contract with Allegiant. “That is when we really started to reach out to commercial air carriers.”
Allegiant Air, based in Las Vegas, operates in 98 cities, including Plattsburgh and Syracuse, using aircraft that can seat 156 to 223 passengers, according to its website. The airline is owned by the Allegiant Travel Co.
Cape Air is the only airline now offering passenger service from Ogdensburg. Flights to Albany with connecting service to Boston are on nine-passenger Cessnas.
As part of the airport runway expansion, approximately 2,000 feet of Route 68 will be relocated 250 feet away from its current path to accommodate new fencing around the runway.
“We are currently going through a process to have the expansion approved by the Federal Aviation Administration,” Mr. Davis said Monday. “We will be meeting with the FAA shortly to approve the project and determine the next step. When the airport project is completed, this will be a meaningful economic driver and will attract large numbers of passengers and flight options out of Ogdensburg,”
The OBPA also announced Monday that it will establish a four-year commercial air carrier incentive program to encourage more commercial airliners to take residence in Ogdensburg, increase passenger services and help boost the regional economy.
“The commercial air carrier incentive is designed to attract large, 150-seat aircraft, which means they will be able to utilize our larger runway,” Mr. Davis said.
He said the OBPA is working “aggressively to court commercial air carriers.”
“The incentive program will fulfill the Port Authority’s objective of establishing Ogdensburg as a strong regional airport addressing the growing needs of the region while developing the airport as a strong economic driver,” he said. “Further, the authority is always looking for ways to develop new routes and opportunities and believes the incentive program will boost the city’s and the region’s global competitiveness.”
The airport will waive a year’s worth of landing fees for airlines starting new routes and destinations that are not already served from Ogdensburg and will waive fees for increased operations and new destinations in future years to carriers offering new passenger services.
The incentive program will launch immediately and carriers will qualify for the incentives on a first come, first served basis, Mr. Davis said.
“Our business model to enhance the use of the airport stems from a vision that airport service will be a moving force to improve our economy and quality of life for this area,” OBPA Chairman Samuel J. LaMacchia said. “I am cautiously optimistic that with the combined continued support of the local, state, federal political leaders, business representatives, the media and other government agencies, this project can become a reality.”