People throughout area have had questions about Erie International Airport and its future.
Thursday night, the airport authority hosted a town hall for the public to attend and learn more about the direction they hope to head and to share the importance of the success of the Fly Erie Fund.
Those attending the meeting tonight said they understand the importance of the airport, but said travel options and prices are reasons they may find another place to fly from.
It’s an effort by the Erie Airport Authority to be transparent with members of the community about the future of the airport and their plans to attract new carriers.
That’s what the executive director of the airport authority, Derek Martin, told us.
“People want to be able to get in and out of the community and if you have an airport, the community grows and prospers,” he said.
But some legacy carriers who have moved on aren’t interested right now in coming back. Delta, for example, has said to airport authorities they won’t have interest in Erie or market’s similar to it for three to five years because of their own business model.
It’s something that has some community members attending the town hall feeling troubled. Some said a lack of destination options deters many from flying Erie.
Derek Martin explained that without air service, a lot of businesses in the community will suffer and not continue to grow. Martin said the airport in 2019 supported nearly 1,000 jobs from the airport itself as well as throughout the region thanks to the travel options provided.
“If you want somebody to invest in your community and they don’t live here, they’re looking for access,” Martin explained.
Meanwhile, the driving force behind the airport’s future; the Fly Erie Fund. Martin said the effort to join public and private sectors is something that’s been seen as a solution at other airports close to Erie’s size.
“You also have airports like Canton, Akron, and Pittsburgh that have similar types of funds funded by local businesses,” Martin said. “So, there’s other communities doing similar things. We wanted to get something up and running so we are in the game that we have something to talk about.”
He added their number one priority right now is getting a low cost carrier to the airport with round trips to Florida.
“It’s not something that’s just happening in Erie, it’s happening nationwide. 74 Communities have lost their service, we’re not alone,” Martin went on to say.
A third American Airlines flight will be offered starting in April of 2024, the next step? Bringing in that low-cost carrier to help offset costs and entice others to join.