As airports across the country continue to lose carriers, Erie International Airport is working to hold onto American Airlines.
The carrier recently signed a new two-year lease. However, this comes at a cost to the airport.
Erie International is working to keep American Airlines, despite losing United Airlines this June and Delta Airlines back in 2020.
The executive director of the airport explained fewer airlines means higher costs for the remaining carrier to stay in Erie.
“When you went down to two that means they were splitting half a million dollars, now it’s one airline so their expectation that they would pay a million dollars to operate out of here is unrealistic. We’re going to use some of our reserve funds to offset the costs of them operating here at the airport,” said Derek Martin, the executive director of the Erie International Airport.
American Airlines recently signed a two-year agreement, paying roughly $430,000 a year to operate flights to Charlotte.
In addition to the airport using reserve funds, the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership is leading a campaign — called Fly Erie — in which the private sector and government entities would raise more than $6 million in the next three years to entice more airlines to come to Erie.
“They would be used as tools to better market the services and the flight availability and the costs, getting customers to rethink, I should look at Erie first. And then the second is potentially using those to for negotiated agreements with the airlines with subsidies,” said Jake Rouch, vice president of economic development for the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership.
Martin added it’s important for the airport to survive as it’s an economic driver for the region.
“We have government employees with the Federal Aviation Administration here and the tower, they’re tech ops. We have TSA, we have U.S. Customs and Border Protection. All those jobs are federal jobs that bring in additional money and resources into the community, and it helps continue the economic base and growth of the community, so the airport provides a vital link for those activities,” Martin continued.