Airport fundraiser could help expand air service | New

With the roughly $ 42 million needed for the new passenger terminal at Barkley Regional Airport, future fundraising efforts could focus on developing additional air services, officials said.

Earlier this summer, the airport’s board of directors paved the way for a community fundraising effort to be undertaken by the Barkley Blue Sky Alliance, a 501 (3) organization, by approving a loan of $ 170,000 .

The loan takes the form of a promissory note to Barkley Blue Sky Alliance to further engage CCS, a professional fundraising company, for 120 days to officially launch an effort to raise around $ 3.5 million over a period from 12 to 18 months.

Although Barkley Blue Sky Alliance has not officially executed the loan, it is expected to do so once a president to lead the fundraising campaign is selected.

“I think they want to get some things in order before they go ahead with the fundraising effort,” said Dennis Rouleau, airport general manager. “They want to make sure all the ducks are lined up, set up a campaign chair, before they spend any money.”

The Mayor of Paducah, George Bray, a member of the Barkley Blue Sky Alliance, stressed the importance of finding the right person in the community to lead the fundraising, when addressing the board of directors of airport on August 23 before its vote to approve the loan.

Bray said he and McCracken County Executive Judge Craig Clymer were working together to find a campaign chair, “someone who would energize him and represent us well in the community.”

Rouleau said the $ 42 million for the airport terminal was secured, through a combination of federal funding ($ 29 million), funding from the State of Kentucky ($ 5 million) and local funding ($ 3 million each from the Town of Paducah and McCracken County).

The inauguration of the new terminal is tentatively scheduled for November 10.

Last June, CCS representatives presented their findings from a fundraising feasibility study, which included 13 recommendations to move the project forward.

The expansion of air service is an ongoing topic of discussion for the airport’s board of directors.

In addition, some of the potential donors identified in the CCS study indicated that they believed that funding a terminal was more the responsibility of government than community donors, Rouleau said of the pivot of air service development. .

“I think this council has signaled a desire to do everything in our power to expand air service from Barkley Regional Airport,” said Jay Matheny, chairman of the board, in April.

He also noted at the time that “people in the community expressed a desire to expand air service. This is something to be optimistic about. We hope that we can do that and that this new terminal project can hopefully be a springboard for it. “

Currently, Utah-based SkyWest Airlines, operating under the United Express banner, provides daily jet service from Paducah to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program.

In this program, the government subsidizes airlines to provide services to smaller communities that would otherwise operate at a loss.

While the Essential Air Service program requires that an airport be served by a single carrier, Barkley Regional could still improve its service, Rouleau said.

“Let’s say we bring in another carrier to operate seasonally to a southern destination. Yes, we can improve air service while maintaining EAS. We just have to be careful not to negatively impact our essential air service, ”he said.

“I hope that one day we can mature and expand our air service from here to a point where we no longer need essential air service. “

Follow David Zoeller on Twitter, @DZoeller_The Sun

Follow David Zoeller on Twitter, @DZoeller_The Sun

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