Thanks to the enthusiastic members of the Tompkins County Air Service Committee and others in the Ithaca community, the City of Ithaca can now take a step forward in establishing better communications with its residents regarding airport services.
On August 25, the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport received a $500,000 grant to improve local air service, including adding air service options and reducing airfare prices. This grant was awarded by the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP), a grant program from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The SCASDP aims to help small communities address air service and airfare issues.
“[It is] something that the airport has been looking towards for several years,” said Larry Baum, member of the Tompkins County Air Service Committee.
The Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport had long been waiting for this grant; this was the third consecutive year the airport applied for it. In the past, the airport had suffered from a decreasing amount of destinations and carriers due to a lack of passengers and increased airfare prices. This grant, the Tompkins County Air Service Committee hopes, will help promote the airport to both students and local residents in order to allow better services and more competitive prices.
“Our goal is that we would see the airport in a way that was economically sustainable,” said Rich McDaniel, associate vice president for Campus and Business Services.
Right now, the only two airlines that fly to Ithaca are Northwest Airlines and U.S. Airways. U.S. Airways offers daily flights to New York City and Philadelphia and Northwest Airlines offers daily service to Detroit.
These destinations, however, do not address most people’s needs, making the increase in destinations a priority for the airport.
New carriers are also a goal, but this one is harder to achieve. Many students would appreciate low-fare airlines coming to Ithaca, however, this prospect seems unlikely.
“It is unlikely that we could see [those] airlines coming to a market the size of Ithaca,” Baum said. Nonetheless, if flights are booked far enough in advance, the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport is able to offer competitive service.
The Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport is aware that many travelers from Ithaca would rather use other nearby airports due to the greater amount of airline and airfare choices. In response to this, the airport’s website features a calculator where one can calculate the extra cost of flying from other nearby airports, such as Syracuse or Binghamton, to show that flying from Ithaca in the end could be just as competitive. This calculator takes into consideration the cost of driving and parking, as well as the cost of the customer’s own time.
Another additional tool which the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport is using to promote itself on its website is a flight search engine which enthusiastically offers “Great Fares From Ithaca!”
“If [you] book in advance, [you] can get competitive service from Ithaca,” said Charles Hamilton, business development, Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport.
Archived article by Ana Li-Carrillo
Sun Staff Writer