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Airport leaders deserve praise for foresight

Members of the CDT’s community editorial board identified competitive and reliable air travel as a key factor in the Centre County area’s economic development efforts. Last month, the board met with University Park Airport director Bryan Rodgers, Centre County Airport Authority director James Meyer and Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County President and CEO Vern Squier to discuss the benefits, concerns and the future of air travel in the region.

FIRST OF THREE PARTS

From its humble beginnings as a small airport constructed by private pilots on land leased by Penn State, the University Park Airport now hosts three major airlines with links to 25 domestic destinations, helping people connect with family, business and leisure.

Serving State College, Bellefonte and the surrounding region, the University Park Airport has become an integral part of Centre County’s economy. Not only does it bring revenue into the area, but it also helps make the region more attractive to businesses and families looking to expand or relocate.

The UPA administration and Centre County Airport Authority have proven to be forward-thinking, pursuing new destinations, keeping an eye toward expansion, and making an effort to become a Category III terminal by the end of 2016.

The Category III upgrades will allow the University Park Airport to accommodate larger aircraft with more seating, including first class, and bigger overhead compartments.

Work is being done to increase business and leisure options with new routes and service providers. But sustained hard work takes time, usually years, to pay off. Progress can’t happen overnight. The negotiation process that led to the addition of Chicago as a destination took five years. But that doesn’t mean the authority isn’t constantly working to move our airport forward.

Improvements are being made — as we write — to security, runways, the terminal and parking lot to position the airport for growth.

A robust airport with frequent and reliable service is key for economic growth in the region, as it helps to retain local businesses, as well as attract new businesses and people to our community.

The CDT applauds the efforts of University Park Airport and the Centre County Airport Authority to this point and encourages them to continue to be bold, keep their eyes sharply focused on new opportunities that will help grow the airport and air service and fuel the local economy.

Tomorrow: What the consumer can do.

Tell us what you think. We will compile your letters about air service for publication in a few days. You can send your letter quickly by going to http://www.centredaily.com /opinion/letters-to-the- editor/submit-letter/.)

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