DuBois Regional Airport Battles Ongoing Financial Woes

5:29:16 dubois regional airportREYNOLDSVILLE, Pa. (EYT) — The state of affairs at the DuBois Regional Airport is not good and various political figures were at the airport in Washington Township, Jefferson County, on Thursday to voice their support for it and seek business involvement to keep things up and running.

While time will tell if that support is to come, it doesn’t seem likely.

The airport has experienced difficult financial times for nearly three decades after Owens-Illinois bought Brockway Glass in the late 1980s. Brockway Glass had a significant presence at the airport then, and the money that flowed from its coffers to the airport for various improvements and repairs made a big difference.

But with an ever-shrinking tax base, frequent changes in carriers, and rising airfares, the airport has struggled mightily to pay its bills.

“We are well aware of the economic impact that DUJ provides our region through the movement of passengers and freight, but we are also aware without this commercial service entity that we aren’t nearly as attractive as a region with the hope of growing our region,” said Brad Lashinsky of the Jefferson County Development Committee.

In 2007, Interstate 80 Exit 90 to the airport was built at a cost of more than $26 million with the hope it would bring more travelers and more businesses to the tax-free zone.

But, very little has changed in the nine years since it was completed.

Motorists using the road are probably as likely to use it as a shortcut to I-80 instead of accessing the airport. And, it’s arguable that a driver is as likely to see a white-tailed deer or a wild turkey crossing the road as a driver heading to the airport.

Recently, the airport was notified by the federal government that it was going to lose its Essential Air Service designation because its commercial flights aren’t maintaining a minimum of 10 passengers on its commercial flights.

And, the clock is ticking for the airport to make its case that it should retain that status, and the federal money that goes with it.

Nevertheless, several politicians voiced their support of the airport and how important it is to the region.

“We lose the funding, we lose the business, and it’s going to be devastating,” State Sen. Joe Scarnati said.

Many spoke about having a regional approach to the airport.

“We really are one community,” said State Rep. Matt Gabler, whose 75th district includes a large chunk of Clearfield County and all of Elk County. “When our 18 to 22-year-olds are turning into 27 to 30-year-olds and are getting ready to settle down, where are they going to want to live? We have good jobs here. There is more technology here, and the factory jobs aren’t your grandfather’s factory job. They are cleaner, and they are still good jobs.”

For State Rep. Cris Dush, whose 66th District includes all of Jefferson County and part of Indiana County, he wants to see a more regional approach to how the airport is marketed and utilized.

“We need to start having a regional approach to business and put the focus on this airport and our roads,” Dush said.

Jefferson County gave $140,000.00 and Clearfield $70,000.00 to the airport in 2016 to help subsidize its operation, but it’s still not enough.

Jefferson County Commissioner Jack Matson explained that half of their subsidy was due to the fact that the airport hasn’t been running in the black, and the county has given more money.

There were comments from some of the politicians that it was hoped other neighboring counties would provide financial support, but it seems unlikely with the St. Marys Airport struggling and Clarion County also having its own airport.

In 2007, when the ribbon was cut opening the new airport exit, then Clearfield County Commissioner Rex Read said, “We don’t have borders, and we must move and do things in an appropriate fashion because there will be spin-offs.”

But, the spin-offs have been few as the Air Commerce Park’s growth has been limited.

Entering the airport, the marquee lists five businesses as tenants, including Sustainable Forestry Consultants; N.Y. Life; Cactus Wellhead; Orion Drilling Great Lakes; and Spencer Technologies.

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(Photo courtesy DuBois Regional Airport)


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