Schumer to Huerta: with MAP funding decision around the corner, Griffiss needs funds to land new terminal

By WKTV News

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer met with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Michael Huerta and urged him to re-secure vital federal funding for Griffiss Airport in Oneida County that would allow the airport to construct a new terminal and expand operations.

Schumer met with Huerta at MacArthur Airport on Long Island and launched his push for Griffiss Airport to receive a Military Airport Program (MAP) award in light of the fact that FAA will select recipients in the near future.

From 2004 to 2010, Griffiss benefitted from $40 million in federal MAP funding designed to help the airport as it transitioned from a military airport to civilian use. Griffiss, a federally-classified general aviation airport, was the only airport of its type in the country to receive the funding, as federal law only permitted one general aviation airport to receive these funds. In 2010, Griffiss lost its slot to a Brunswick, ME airport, which cut off the flow of this essential funding that helped the airport transition to a commuter and business-friendly facility. Schumer, through the recently-passed Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, successfully changed federal law to allow up to three general aviation airports to receive MAP funding.

The FAA bill has since become law, and today Schumer reiterated his push to secure one of the three slots for Griffiss directly to Acting Administrator Huerta. If selected, Oneida County would find itself back on the MAP award list and able to make major improvements to help draw new businesses and economic activity to Central New York. Griffiss is seeking approximately $20 million over the next four years, and would use the funds, in part, to build a new terminal building, as well as renovate two former military hangars to help establish the airport as a maintenance hub for the Northeast. Most important to Schumer’s push would be for Griffiss to receive $7.1 million in MAP funding this year in order to construct a new terminal.

“The FAA decision for Military Airport Program funding recipients is around the corner, and today I launched a full court press to land these critical funds for Griffiss Airport,” said Schumer. “In a meeting with Acting FAA Administrator Huerta, I pushed that Griffiss Airport once again receive these funds, so that Oneida County can construct a new terminal, which will allow the airport to be more accessible for Central New York residents and businesses. Since 2010, I have fought hard to bring the Military Airport Program back to Griffiss, which had previously benefited from over $40 million over the six years it was awarded this vital grant. The federal government needs to step up to the plate, as it has in the past, and provide Griffiss Airport with the necessary funding that will allow for the construction of a new terminal, which would pave the way for new jobs and industries in Central New York.”

Schumer toured the MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, NY today with FAA Acting Administrator Huerta, and Schumer renewed his push that the FAA to select Griffiss Airport’s application to be one of the three “general aviation” airports eligible for federal MAP funding, which is critical to the airport’s role as a commuter and business-focused facility. According to the FAA, this decision is set to be made in the near future. In the FAA reauthorization bill, which President Obama signed in February of 2012, Schumer successfully fought to boost the number of slots for eligible airports from one to as many as three. This effort gives the FAA the ability to again send MAP funding to multiple airports, and Schumer is pushing the administration to choose Griffiss Airport for one of those slots. Since the MAP program was established, Griffiss has benefitted from and relied on $40 million of this funding. With that, the airport has upgraded hangars, and improved surface lots, utility systems and cargo buildings on site, among other projects. Schumer is urging the FAA to name Griffiss to one of the three available slots, so that it can begin again to receive this funding on which the airport relies to transition from a military to civilian accommodating airport, one that eventually would be self-sustaining. Schumer also highlighted in his meeting with Huerta the urgent need for Griffiss to receive $7.1 million to construct a new terminal.

Re-entry into the MAP program will permit the County to complete redevelopment of Airport Facilities critical to the continued success of Griffiss International Airport. Griffiss intends to request approximately $20 million dollars over the next four years. This funding would go towards several projects in 2013, including a new terminal building and new nose docks. The new terminal building will be 30,000 square feet and will vastly improve temporary facilities that are currently used for charter passengers leaving the airport. In addition, the terminal will include a Custom’s FIS-facility, to clear international flight crews and clear and repair aircraft flown into Griffiss. Airport officials also plan to add an improved TSA security checkpoint, as well as facilities to accommodate the arrival and departure of narrow body jet aircraft that can carry up to 190 passengers. Schumer noted that this terminal project has already been designed, and construction would be set to begin as soon as MAP funding is available. Griffiss also plans to rehabilitate two of the airport’s remaining 28,000 square foot former military hangars to accommodate the continued growth of Griffiss as a Northeast aircraft maintenance hub.

Earlier this year, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the recently passed Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill would boost Griffiss Airport’s chance of securing federal Military Airport Program (MAP) funding. The Military Airport Program (MAP) uses federal funds to convert former military airports to civilian or joint-use airports. MAP funding, a set-aside of the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), provides a boost to civilian aviation capacity by upgrading former military airports. A total of 15 airports may participate in the program at any one time, but previously only a single ‘general aviation’ airport could receive funding. The FAA reauthorization bill now allows up to three general aviation airports to receive funding at a given time. Airports may be selected or reselected to receive financial assistance for up to five years.

Since 1990, the FAA has provided airport sponsors approximately $614 million for a variety of projects such as building or rehabilitating surface parking lots, fuel farms, hangars, utility systems, access roads, and cargo buildings. Many of these projects are not normally eligible for AIP funding, but projects for MAP-designated airports have unique eligibility rules to convert the airports to civilian or joint use.

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