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Commissioners to hear airport purchase presentation in coming months

This article was published on Cumberlink.com on August 23, 2016.

By Joshua Vaughn

The possibility of public ownership of the Carlisle Airport is moving forward and the Cumberland County Commissioners are likely to hear a formal presentation in the coming months.

In May, several municipalities — including Carlisle, South Middleton Township, North Middleton Township and the county — took part in a public ownership workgroup to discuss the purchase of the airport by a government entity, according to Mary Kuna, market development manager for the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation.

A formal presentation is expected to be made to the commissioners in September or October. This presentation would likely include the potential price tag for the purchase and possibilities for how the ownership structure would work, Kuna said.

“The airport is financially stable,” she said. “It’s filled to capacity. It’s been very beneficial to businesses in the area and the tourism side of the house.”

The airport is currently owned by a group of six investors who Kuna said were getting to the age where they may no longer be interested in owning it. She explained that public purchase of the airport would guarantee it remains in service and not purchased as developable land.

Public ownership would also allow for federal dollars to aid in improvements, Kuna said.

Currently, the state can cover up to 75 percent of capital improvements at the privately owned, publicly accessible airport.

If it is publicly owned, up to 90 percent of improvements are covered by the Federal Aviation Administration, with the other 10 percent split between the state and local municipal ownership, according to Kuna.

“It’s turning a profit right now,” Kuna said. “Imagine what other businesses could fly their planes in there and start utilizing it.”

Kuna said that even with improvements the airport would still primarily be used for things like private jets and would not be able to house a commercial airline company.

“That’s really the logic behind public ownership. It’s to preserve it and protect this resource that we have,” Kuna said. “When you think about it, it’s the only airport that really serves this area and this region.”

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