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January 02. 2013 10:22PM

Lebanon airport qualifies for $1m in federal funds for improvements

LEBANON - A day before the end-of-the-year deadline, the Lebanon Municipal Airport reached 10,000 enplanements, garnering $850,000 more a year in federal aid for airport improvements.

It's been more than a decade since the airport has seen that many passengers flying out of the airport.

The goal was reached through a special promotion offered by the airport's federally contracted airline, Cape Air, which offered $12 flights each way to Boston and New York from Dec. 26 till Dec. 31.

Cape Air provides the service through a federal subsidy worth up to $2.35 million a year for the airline.

"The city is supportive of the efforts of the Cape Air at trying to publicize the services that are available from the Lebanon airport to Boston and New York," said Lebanon City Manager Gregory D. Lewis.

The airport surpassed 10,000 on Dec. 30. Andrew Bonney, Cape Air vice president of planning, said by the end of 2012 the airport's enplanements had reached 10,120.

The airport was on track to enplane more than 10,000 passengers by the end of 2012, when Hurricane Sandy stopped all flights to New York for eight consecutive days, he said.

At under 10,000 passengers per year, the airport qualifies for $150,000 in funding from the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program. Topping 10,000 means it now qualifies for $1 million the airport can use for runaway paving and other safety improvements.

In 2008 when Cape Air won a bid from the U.S. Department of Transportation to be the Lebanon airport's "essential air service" it committed to raise enplanement numbers, Bonney said.

Since then, the airport has seen a 10 to 20 percent increase in passenger ridership each year, he said.

Cape Air provides air service at Lebanon Airport at an annual federal subsidy rate of $2.35 million, for flights on a nine-seat Cessna-402 aircraft from Lebanon to Boston or Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's October 2012 report.

The airline offers four nonstop round trips per day to Boston and two nonstop round trips per day to Westchester County.

The airline receives up to $46,536 a week or $554 per eligible arrival or departure.

"The U.S. DOT guarantees several dozen communities access to the national air transportation system," Bonney said.



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