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Washington Co. OKs concessions to lure commercial service to airport

October 30, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN -- The Washington County Commissioners unanimously approved a list of concessions Tuesday that can be made to new commercial service operators interested in flying to Hagerstown Regional Airport.

The concessions, outlined in the airport's Commercial Service Development Policy, can include waiving airport fees and passenger terminal building rentals for airlines that meet certain conditions.

Some of those concessions will be given to Allegiant Air, which will begin flights to the airport in November, airport officials said Wednesday.

The Federal Aviation Administration allows airports to offer incentives to airlines in an effort to attract new service.

Hagerstown Regional Airport Business Development Manager Greg Larsen said Wednesday that the ability to offer concessions makes the airport more competitive with other airports that offer cash to prospective airlines, sometimes as much as $100,000.

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"We are in a tough position. We don't have cash to offer," Larsen said.

Larsen said the airport will waive landing fees for Allegiant Air, which is to begin twice-weekly flights between Hagerstown and Orlando on Nov. 14.

Those fees, which can vary from $12 per month to $56 per month, will be increased gradually over a five-year period until Allegiant is paying full price to use the facilities, Larsen said.

To qualify for concessions, airlines must be able to demonstrate their ability to provide commercial service, use jet-propelled aircraft of 50 seats or more, and be the first to commit to providing service to a new route that is a "destination that is of interest to the Airport," according to a draft of the policy.

Those destinations include, but are not limited to, the Orlando, Baltimore/Washington, New York City, Chicago or Atlanta areas.

The conditions, which were drafted by airport officials, also required potential airlines to provide nonstop service, but the county commissioners relaxed that language, deciding that giving a preference to nonstop carriers was more appropriate than mandating nonstop service.

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