Senator Charles Schumer secured around $10 million in funding for the second phase of the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport expansion. The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. Schumer said the new funding will keep the airport’s expansion project on the runway to success.
The funding will ensure that the project transforms the airport into a nationally-recognized airport with high-class facilities and to serve as the gateway for travelers throughout the Southern Tier. During a visit to the airport in February, Schumer called acting administrator of the FAA Daniel Elwell to fight for this critical grant.
For now, the project is well on its way, according to Schumer, with New York State funding the first phase of this project: a full reconstruction of the terminal building. The new grant will be used for phase two, which is the construction of a post-security arrival/departure concourse and new jet bridges. Schumer explained the funding will allow the airport to increase its size and capabilities. With these key upgrades, the impact on the airport will create upgrades to current service as well as attract new carriers and destinations.
“Business at the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport has taken off, people are choosing to fly out of Ithaca, and carriers are taking notice,” said Senator Schumer. “These federal funds will go a long way to create a world-class facility right here in Tompkins County that will encourage continued growth. I was proud of the role I played in securing this federal funding and will keep fighting to ensure this long-sought project stays on the runway to success. With a new and improved facility, the sky is the limit for Ithaca Tompkins Regional.”
Mike Hall, director of the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, said this is a push in the right direction and gives the airport the additional funding needed to keep the project on track and within its budget. Since the project’s beginning, Martha Robertson, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, has said Schumer has been an advocate for the longest time and is working hard to ensure the airport’s future as a leader in air travel in Upstate New York.
Prior to this, Schumer fought to secure millions of dollars in DOT funding for other projects at the airport, such as a new boarding bridge to accommodate increased travelers at the airport, obtaining snow removal and emergency vehicles, and acquiring Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) funding, which was critical for the airport’s new ability to market and promotes service options. He also played a role in getting the airport a new high-technology baggage screening system from the TSA to replace the manual bag check system.
As the airport hosts 270 flights per month, with three major airlines offering three flights per day, the new expansion is a necessary change. With over 100,000 passengers traveling through the airport each year, Jason Molino, the Tompkins County Administrator, sees the new funding as a means of capitalizing on the current success of the airport and helping it continue to grow.
“This federal support secures our airport’s ability to grow and thrive in the future, and to continue as a critical tool for our county’s robust business growth and development,” Molino said. “The expansion of Ithaca Tompkins Airport will preserve and enhance Tompkins County’s role as one of the most diverse and equitable communities in New York State.
Schumer sees the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport as a smart investment for the federal government since the airport is growing in response to increased economic activity throughout the region. Considering the airport plays an important role in the region’s economy, Schumer wants to make sure this airport continues to draw in tourists, academics, and business people.
Both phase two and phase three are scheduled to be completed by late November or early December and with this new batch of funding, the project should meet its deadline head on.