Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, is considering giving away short flights to nearby towns. That’s right, giving away. As in, for free. Why, you might ask? To qualify for $1 million in funding from the FAA, which gives away a minimum of $1 million to airports that serve 10,000 passengers or more in a year. Presently, Altoona-Blair is 1,700 passengers short.
While nothing is official yet, the idea surely has some area passengers interested, even though the free flights will be short-haul (to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 27 miles away). It’s possible that passengers could get the first leg of a connecting flight to Washington, D.C., for free, because Johnstown serves as a feeder for [[United]] service to the Capital.
Altoona-Blair’s idea has probably caused a stir at other small airports around the country as well. According to Altoona-Blair airport authority spokesman Don Rugger, even with the cost of those free flights factored in, Altoona-Blair would be looking at a funding infusion of roughly $850,000. That money could then be used to build new hangars for private aircraft, increasing the airport’s capacity and, subsequently, income. For a small airport with little commercial traffic, the financial math makes perfect sense.
Whether or not Altoona-Blair’s idea is ethical or not, however, is less clear. The 10,000-passenger mark is there to make sure airports serving a significant number of people receive the necessary funding to keep the airport in good condition. If Altoona-Blair can’t reach the 10,000-passenger mark through normal business, does it really deserve the federal handout? Or is 10,000 passengers a semi-arbitrary number that, in this economy, unfairly leaves some airports on the outside looking in?
Either way, if this works, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more small airports try it out. Nor would I be surprised to see the FAA tighten up its funding rules.
We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Top Fares From
Today's Top Travel Deals
Brought to you by ShermansTravel
Exclusive Offer: 8-Night Private South Africa...
Odyssey Safarisvacation $10999+
Wisconsin Dells Water Park Resort w/Meals,...
Rome to Istanbul: Luxe, 11-Night Mediterranean...
Oceania Cruisescruise $3999+