QUINCY REGIONAL Airport has qualified for $1 million in Federal Aviation Administration maintenance funding because more than 10,000 passengers boarded flights last year, enabling the city to begin implementing plans for a series of improvements that will make the airport even more appealing.
Now that the 10,000-passenger threshold has been reached for the first time since 2002, being able to rely on that level of federal funding each year to help with critical capital infrastructure and safety improvement projects is the next objective.
With Cape Air advance bookings for January already 30 percent ahead of a year ago, the airline is off to a good start.
While Quincy Regional Airport has been a safe and well-maintained facility, Manager Jeff Steinkamp admits local officials have been hampered in recent years by not having enough funding to complete projects in a timely manner.
Often, he said, the city has been forced to accumulate lesser funding from other sources over a three- or four-year period to be able to pay for a project that could have been completed in the first year, had money been available.
Or in the case of unfunded mandates that could not be delayed, the city has at times been forced to dip into its general fund.
Those measures appear to be a thing of the past.
Steinkamp said the Quincy Aeronautics Committee has assembled a priority list of that includes rehabilitation of runway 4/22, rehabilitation of taxiway D, taxiway E or construction of a new taxiway F. The airport entrance road may be improved and an overall revised airport layout plan has been considered.
"We have 10 projects going out to 2020 that we would like to do," Steinkamp said. "Preliminary design work as been done on many of them. We haven't been sitting around. We have been planning for the day when funding would be available. All of them will make this a more attractive airport."
Travelers are encouraged to continue using Cape Air to ensure this service to the region will continue. Receiving $1 million in federal funding each year not only would help the commuter airline build on its successes, it also would benefit the fleet of corporate and private planes that use the airport.
Cape Air has been an outstanding civic partner since its began providing commercial flights between Quincy in St. Louis in November 2009.
The airline has succeeded where some previous carriers have failed by offering affordable tickets and reliable service. It has worked closely with community leaders to grow ridership for three consecutive years.
Cape Air appears poised to continue that trend, and that is welcomed news for Quincy Regional Airport and regional travelers.