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Westchester County Airport prepares for $2 million revenue shortfall in 2013

Posted By Theresa Juva-Brown On December 13, 2012 @ 5:06 pm In Air travel,Westchester County Airport | Comments Disabled

[1]Westchester County Airport will have to dip into savings next year to plug the $2 million hole in its budget from the loss of AirTran and United flights at the airport.

Airport officials will take $3 million from the airport’s savings account, also known as the fund balance, to help cover the airport’s $49.7 million expense plan for 2013.

The airport is owned by the county but generates its own revenue to operate.  The budget was approved last week by county legislators.

“Since we have a healthy fund balance right now, the fact that the AirTran slots have not all been filled is not a major concern,” Patty Chemka, Westchester County Deputy Commissioner of Public Works and Transportation, said in an email.

After the $3 million is taken, the airport’s savings will sit at roughly $20 million, Chemka said.

The airline industry’s tumultuous year brought shake-ups to Westchester’s airport.  In June, United airlines stopped its three daily flights to Dulles International Airport after the company that had supplied it planes filed for bankruptcy. Then in August, AirTran pulled the plug on its five daily flights to Orlando, West Palm Beach and Atlanta.

The airport makes money from charging “aircraft handling fees” for each flight, Chemka said.

Airport officials have said they are optimistic other airlines will fill the vacant slots left by United and AirTran, but so far none have made offers.

With the economy still shaky and fuel prices high, airlines are hesitant to expand service,  said airport manager Peter Scherrer.

JetBlue has started using slightly larger planes that demand higher handling fees and that’s made up for some of the loss, officials said.

The airport expects to serve 1.86 million commercial passengers in 2013, a slight increase from the 1.81 million projected for this year. In 2011, 1.9 million  passed through the airport, according to budget documents.

(Journal News/LoHud.com file photo)

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