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FAA should act quickly to approve Ogdensburg airport runway extension

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U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer’s involvement in attempting to secure federal approval for the Ogdensburg International Airport runway extension project is most welcome. Mr. Schumer appeared in Ogdensburg Monday to publicly urge the Federal Aviation Administration to green-light the project.

We sincerely hope his urging provides the proper push toward swift approval. The project is a long time coming and aims to result in larger aircraft using the airport. Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority officials have projected that its deal with Allegiant Air, Las Vegas, Nev., to begin service at the airport once the project is complete could result in 40,000 more passengers flying out of Ogdensburg each year.

Allegiant is not the only air carrier that could be enticed to provide service in Ogdensburg once the runway is extended by 1,200 feet to accommodate larger craft.

Much of that projected increase in passengers is expected to be made up of Canadians who in increasing numbers are flying out of U.S. airports because fares are lower here than they are to the north.

It’s a project that could dramatically change the economic landscape, not just for Ogdensburg but for all of St. Lawrence County.

Since OBPA announced its plans, Massena officials have railed against them, arguing that the federal government should focus on either Massena’s airport or Ogdensburg’s because St. Lawrence County does not need two airports.

But town officials there do not seem to realize that what benefits one of us economically benefits us all. If St. Lawrence County is ever going to get out of its economic rut, its communities need to start working together toward shared goals, not let provincial interests get in the way of progress.

There is no reason why the Massena and Ogdensburg airports cannot coexist. Passengers in search of low air fares will fly out of whichever airport is served by a carrier that can offer them the best deal.

Whether that airport is in Ogdensburg or Massena will be dictated by which of them serves its customers better. If Massena sees an uptick in passengers because Cape Air is providing the best service and lowest fares to people looking to travel to the destinations it offers, the entire county benefits. The same is true if more passengers choose to fly out of Ogdensburg.

We hope the FAA acts quickly to get the Ogdensburg International Airport project off the ground.

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