Rutland looks to boost traffic at airport

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(Host) Rutland area business leaders and aviation boosters are looking at ways to increase traffic at Rutland state airport.

As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, a longer runway, and a new name – The Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport – top the list of short and long range proposals.

(Keck) Chittenden resident Peter Fisk is a private pilot as well as Rutland airport’s representative on several regional and state transportation committees. He says the airport serves a much broader area than just Rutland County, and should have name that reflects that.

(Fisk) “Getting the name Vermont in means something to someone in Philadelphia or New York City or something more than Rutland might. And we wanted to a) get that in for marketing purposes and b) – I’ve come to conclude that the airport is very important to the southern Vermont and certainly the Route 7 corridor we hear so much about.”

(Keck) Fisk says Burlington airport serves the northern half of the route seven corridor. Rutland’s airport, he says, should be the hub for air traffic from Middlebury to Bennington.

(Fisk) “When you stop and think of the communities and the second home ownership in Manchester, Dorset and Stratton in particular – it’s a high-end group of people and they tend to travel in corporate jets or business jets and so we saw particularly after 9-11 a huge jump in that kind of traffic.”

(Keck) But to sustain that, Fisk says the airport must make significant long range infrastructure upgrades to meet federal safety requirements and accommodate new faster jets. He says by the year 2015, all airports must have 1000 feet of safety space at the end of each runway. Rutland’s runway will need to be extended significantly to meet that. No cost estimates are available yet, but Fisk says federal funds would be available.

(Fisk) “This is where we’ll miss Jim Jeffords a lot because his efforts over the years at the airport have been very fruitful for us.”

(Keck) Fisk says the airport is developing a master plan for future upgrades. Once completed, he says they’ll get in line for funding.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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