MASSENA - While officials in Ogdensburg are celebrating a recent announcement that the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority has signed a contract with an airline to provide passenger service with planes that can carry well over 100 passengers, Massena Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said the city doesn’t really have anything to celebrate yet.
“Other than making this announcement, they are no further ahead in getting a runway extension than Massena is,” Mr. Gray said, adding Massena’s airport is much closer to being able to accommodate larger planes than Ogdensburg’s.
“There is much less work to do to make Massena Airport ready to do business with a company like Allegiant than there is in Ogdensburg,” he said. “We have the terminal.We have the aviation instrumentation. We have water service, and we currently have a longer runway,” he said.
When making the announcement, Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Executive Director Wade A. Davis said Ogdensburg is currently in the midst of the process required to receive approval for a runway expansion project, something that Mr. Gray said they should of had prior to making such an announcement.
“Without FAA approval, no one can extend their runway,” he said. “And even if they had FAA approval, that doesn’t mean they’ll have FAA funding.”
Mr. Gray said given the comparison between the two airports, it doesn’t make sense for the FAA or anyone to fund the creation of a regional airport in Ogdensburg.
“I’ve said it before. We don’t need two airports 35 miles apart. Why would anyone spend $10 million to do work in Ogdensburg that is already done in Massena?” he asked. “If it made sense for us to put all of our eggs in the Ogdensburg Airport basket, I would, but it doesn’t. Right now Massena has the superior airport.”
Mr. Gray also revisited the argument he has made several times in the past about the OBPA working for the entire region, not just Ogdensburg.
“Isn’t the OBPA through their incorporating documents supposed to be a regional authority?” he asked. “Wouldn’t it make sense for them to work with neighboring communities and develop a regional approach to aviation.”
As for what would happen should Ogdensburg move forward with a runway expansion airport and Allegiant begin service out of the aiport, Mr. Gray said given the investment Massena has already put into its airport business could continue as normal.
“I think we would keep doing business the way we are and try to attract a carrier similar to them,” he said.