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Surge in passengers leaves Ogdensburg looking for more flights

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OGDENSBURG — Airplanes aren’t the only things soaring at Ogdensburg International Airport, and the facility’s operator is seeking more flights to fill rising demand.

The airport is experiencing a large increase in passengers through the early part of this year after a record 2011.

At the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority board of directors’ Thursday meeting, Deputy Executive Director Frederick S. Morrill reported 3,506 passengers passed through the facility from April through July this year, a 51 percent increase from the same period in 2011, when the airport served 2,316 commercial fliers. In the same period in 2010 just 1,644 passengers came through the airport.

That growth is filling up the three eight-seat planes that serve the airport each day. Currently, Nantucket, Mass.- based Cape Air provides the minimum flights required by Ogdensburg’s Essential Air Service program.

“I’ve been checking with them, and it looks like some flights are full,” Mr. Morrill said. “I’d say they are turning away passengers.”

Frederick J. Carter, OBPA vice chairman, said the authority is asking for one to two additional fights.

“We’re talking to them, and they said they might bring two flights in the morning and two flights in the afternoon,” Mr. Carter said. “If that will work, people might start booking more if they know more room is available.”

Mr. Morrill said the growth in passengers is due in large part to Canadian fliers seeking lower air fares across the border.

“I have been checking numbers with Cape Air, and they’ve told me that 28.97 percent of their passengers are Canadian,” he said.

Cape Air is able to keep its fares low thanks to lower American fuel costs and federal aviation subsidies.

So far this year, 1,190 passengers have boarded planes in Ogdensburg. With more flights, Ogdensburg might reach the 10,000 annual boardings required to qualify for an additional $1 million in Federal Aviation Administration airport improvement program funds to upgrade facilities.

“Right now we have an annual rate of 5,880 boardings,” said Mr. Morrill. “We can’t get to 10,000 with the number of flights we have.”

OBPA officials also are trying to initiate air service between Ogdensburg and Quebec, but have had no success in their search for a carrier, Mr. Davis said.

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