Chambers and airport join forces

Groups are looking to attract new flights and airlines

— The Albany Inter-national Airport has teamed up with several chambers of commerce in the Capital District to put forth an application for a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to either bring in another airline or create new flight destinations.

The grant is called the Small Community Air Service Development grant and is worth up to $1.5 million. The amount of grant funds the Albany International Airport would receive is based upon the amount of matching funds that comes from the community.

This comes in response to what Albany International Airport Public Affairs Director Doug Myers said is a demand from regional businesses for increased air service. With the support of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Center for Economic Growth, the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce, the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce and the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce, they were able to raise over $500,000. The funds were a combination of donations from businesses and in kind donations from print and broadcast media.

“We applied a year ago and were not successful,” said Myers. “I believe we did not exhibit community support to bring in new airline or have an existing airline with a non-stop flight to a new destination. Usually, the support is shown in the amount of pledged dollars to offset the costs of operating an airline for a year. Airlines are looking for new cities and expanded route systems, but are not willing to take the chance to use them unless there is community support. They don’t want to lose money.”

Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said the group of chambers originally approached the authority to inquire about getting more flights or carriers to help accommodate the rise of the high-tech sector in the region. He said there are fewer flights going to fewer destinations then there were five years ago from the airport.

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