PITTSTON TWP. — After a record year in 2017, passenger enplanements in 2018 at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport have been off for a few months, but that trend turned around in June.
At Thursday’s Bi-County Airport Board meeting, Executive Director Carl Beardsley reported that passenger enplanements for June 2018 decreased 4.1 percent to 23,368 from 24,378 in June 2017. However, despite the drop from a year ago, Beardsley said this June marked the second highest June ever.
“That’s is good news,” Beardsley said. “We are seeing high numbers again.”
Beardsley reported that when compared directly with the month of June 2017, the 2018 decrease is mainly attributed to the loss of Allegiant air service to Orlando/Sanford and Tampa/St.Petersburg. He said the search for a replacement for the non-stop to Florida service continues, but nothing has been found to date.
Earlier this year, Beardsley said replacing Allegiant was a “top priority.” He said he has been in negotiations with other airlines. Beardsley said the airport will see several flights added to its existing carriers, such as American Airlines service to Chicago and additional flights to Charlotte and Philadelphia and new service to Washington D.C will soon begin.
Beardsley also said the airport’s business from the lower tier of New York has increased dramatically, as evidenced by the increased number of New York license plates on travelers’ cars parked at the airport. He said there has also been an increase in users from New Jersey.
At last month’s board meeting, a $61,500 payment was delayed for a blast fence at the airport. When Steve Mykulyn, engineering director at the airport, gave his report on a change order for work connected with the recent demolition of the former terminal building and the construction of a new parking lot, he said a $207,588 change order needed approval. Part of it was for $61,500 for the blast fence, which is needed to keep particles and debris from being blown into the parking lot by jet engines and possibly damaging vehicles. The parking lot is being built where the terminal was once located.
Mykulyn explained the original bid specifications did not call for the correct type of fencing. He said it was brought to the airport’s attention when the fence manufacturer informed the contractor, TSE Inc., of Dunmore. Mykulyn said a change order was submitted to pay for the additional $61,500 for the correct fence.
Luzerne County councilman and airport board member Tim McGinley voted against paying the change order and the motion failed. McGinley then moved to pay it, less the $61,500 for the fencing. That motion passed.
On Thursday, McGinley said his questions were answered and the payment was unanimously approved.
The change order increased the payment to TSE for its part of the work to $1,300,700 from the original $1,093,112. McGinley noted that represented a 20 percent increase.
Last month, Mykulyn explained the cost couldn’t be avoided — saying the correct fencing must be installed. The fence manufacturer was Blast Deflectors Inc., of Reno, Nevada. Mykulyn said the cost would not have been cheaper had the correct specifications been in the original bid package.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the contract between the airport and Walsh Electrical, Inc., Clarks Summit, for the “Upgrade Airfield Lighting Computers and Controls” project subject to solicitor’s concurrence in the amount of $55,000. The costs of this project are being funded through the airport’s Passenger Facility Charge program collections.
• Approved a change of position for Todd Kuna, 418 Wyoming Ave., Dupont, from the position of maintenance to lead fireman, effective Sept. 2.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.