Ogdensburg International Airport
“All about convenience”
Business View Magazine interviews Stephanie Saracco, Airport Manager at Ogdensburg International Airport, for our focus on U.S. General Aviation
The City of Ogdensburg, New York dates to 1749 when a mission was built on the banks of the St. Lawrence River by Father Picquet. He built Fort La Presentation upon the site of an old Indian village named Swa-gatch which was the northernmost village along the original Indian trail that ran from the Mohawk Valley to the St. Lawrence River.
Ogdensburg developed into an important port of entry and railroad center during the 19th and early 20th centuries, with an extensive trade in lumber and grains as well as paper production, boat building, merchant and custom milling, foundry, and machine work. The city has been a seaport since the early 19th century. The completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 connected the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and opened the area to unprecedented industrial expansion. Ogdensburg is the only American port on the St. Lawrence Seaway. This proximity to Canada means everything for the Ogdensburg International Airport.
The publicly owned airport is located about two miles southeast of the city and is owned by the Ogdensburg Bridge & Port Authority, that also owns and operates the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge, Port of Ogdensburg Marine Terminal Facility, Commerce Park, Port of Waddington, a medium-heavy industrial park, and two short line railroads. The airport is mixed-use, about half and half commercial and general aviation. Contour Airlines provides daily commercial service to Philadelphia.
In terms of resources, Ogdensburg International covers 500 acres and has one asphalt runway 9-27, which is 6400 by 150 feet. The property has a renovated terminal building, and several smaller buildings including T-hangars, a storage shed, and a fire hall. All of this is managed by a staff of five people. Operating as its own FBO, the airport also handles transient flights, fuel sales, and all the amenities general aviation pilots have come to expect.
“I think the main reason people fly into this area is easy access to and from Canada,” explains Stephanie L. Saracco, Ogdensburg International Airport Manager. “We are very close to a border crossing. There is also nature and wildlife – the scenic beauty of the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Thousand Islands, just north of the Adirondack Mountains is incredible. We also have four universities within about 35 miles and so student travel is part of our reality.”
“The other side of it is the ease of service,” offers Anthony Adamczyk, Director of Development for the Ogdensburg Bridge & Port Authority (OBPA). “If you wanted to know how to think of our organization, the closest thing to compare it to would be a very small version of the Port Authority in New York and New Jersey. We are a public authority and the airport is one of our divisions, along with the bridge, port, railways, and industrial parks. We have a rail line leading from the port that connects with CSX – so, you have all these different modes of commercial transportation that we have essentially covered in one organization. This makes it extremely easy for any business customer to work with us. One team to contact, no worries. And if you want to relocate your business to Ogdensburg, we have all the infrastructure in place!”
Being a small airport is actually beneficial when it comes to convenience. The terminal building was redone in 2016 and is easily accessible, charming and user-friendly. Still, the hope is to continue to expand and make it even better. Ogdensburg International has truly created a ‘less is more’ atmosphere where there are no long lines, no hassle finding parking spaces, and no crowds to navigate – just the beginning of your adventure.
“We are always having to do infrastructure projects,” says Saracco. “Right now we have a big drainage project going on. It doesn\’t mean much to the traveling public, but behind the scenes, it is very important. We do not have a problem with the pavement itself, but this project will ensure that stormwater drains better in the surrounding areas. We recently finished a runway lighting rehabilitation, as well as some work to our navigation equipment, then the drainage, and after that, we are planning on building a snow removal equipment building. Being in upstate New York there is always competition, but we manage these infrastructure projects through grants from the state and the FAA. Once we have secured the funding, we are going to be looking at further terminal upgrades to create more space which will help with baggage, passenger flow, and waiting areas, as well as security. We also want to create some meeting space that can be used for community groups and open space for community events.”
One of the key players at the airport is MAPCO Auto Parks. They handle all the parking services at the airport, but it goes far beyond that because the airport only has a staff of five. Being open from first thing in the morning through to 8:30 at night seven days a week for 365 days can be a burden. Saracco acknowledges, “The folks at MAPCO Auto Parks are very helpful and not only with parking. They help around the terminal itself, getting folks in and out of the parking lot, as well as other types of ground transportation, assisting with taxis, and arranging transportation – they\’re good at it.”
One of the big draws for Ogdensburg International Airport is the proximity to the Canada/U.S. border. According to Saracco, “Being less than five miles from the airport, you clear customs there and then come right to the airport and fly out anywhere in the United States without having to clear customs again. The nearest city to us in Canada is Ottawa, the capital, and they are straight up the highway from our border crossing, so that is a big draw. It is easier the other way too, some folks fly in here in their private aircraft and then rent a car to cross into Canada – it is often easier than clearing customs in a larger airport. This also holds for commercial traffic with small amounts of cargo. I have been told by certain businesses that it\’s easier to fly into this airport and truck the goods from here across the bridge.”
Although they do not have much cargo traffic at present, the airport has begun to explore the possibilities and would love to open it up to more shipping, which given the location seems like the perfect pairing.
Looking to the future Saracco would love to see more commercial air traffic and an expansion of the FBO services offered. “We do have a lot of business travelers,” she says, “and we would like to make their experience a better one, their time in the airport more comfortable. We are also aware that airports don\’t exist on one stream of revenue alone, so any type of expansion into other markets or additional services would be welcome. And it would be great to get cargo services operating out of Ogdensburg.”
“I would echo those sentiments as well,” concludes Adamczyk, “and I would add that it would be great to expand our commercial presence. We currently have one airline with one destination, but our goal is to expand with our current carrier and potentially bring on more carriers. The opportunity to expand our offerings and to provide more to the customers is truly exciting.”
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AT A GLANCE
Ogdensburg International Airport
What: A convenient commercial/general aviation airport owned and operated by the Ogdensburg Bridge & Port Authority
Where: City of Ogdensburg, New York
MAPCO Auto Parks – www.mapcoparking.com
Established in 1936, MAPCO Auto Parks is a third generation, family-owned business with decades of experience working alongside clients to assist them in planning parking programs that provide solutions to their unique needs.
Our mission is to maximize the financial return for clients and provide operational efficiencies through customization of hardware and software solutions.
Our parking operations expertise includes operating structured and surface parking areas for private owners, municipalities, airports, hospitals, medical offices, and special events.
The elements of our success can be found in the innovations and practices that we have developed over the years.
We’ve been at the forefront of launching new operations such as airport valet parking during an era when curbside security and safety required collaboration with local and federal law enforcement.
We’ve proactively navigated challenges and found opportunities with the introduction of transportation network competitors and the unprecedented COVID pandemic impact.
We remain nimble, actively listening to the voice of the customer, constantly evolving parking revenue systems, using the latest IT infrastructure, exploring concepts such as demand-based parking pricing – all while delivering a quality experience for our clients and their customers.
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Where good news takes flight
Business View Magazine interviews Ed Foster, Director of Lancaster Airport, for our focus on U.S. Regional Airports
Located between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the City of Lancaster is a bubbling center of commerce and community with loads to offer. It’s a metropolitan area that is well connected via trains, highways, and Lancaster Airport, itself, which is conveniently located on the outskirts of the city.
Airport operations are efficiently taken care of by a staff of 25 well-trained individuals. The majority of aviation traffic is private and flight school training and Lancaster Airport is home to a number of fixed-base operators providing a wide range of services. The Lancaster Airport is also home to the only non-Cirrus owned maintenance facility, FlyAdvanced, which performs Cirrus aircraft maintenance as well as providing sales and service for the up and coming Cirrus Jet. Other FBOs operating at Lancaster Airport work on various brands of propeller aircraft including Cessna and Mooney. Lancaster Avionics, a well reputed avionics shop is also based on the field bringing aircraft from up and down the eastern seaboard. The airport fueling company, Alliance Aviation, is responsible for fueling aircraft, meeting and greeting clients, organizing limos, as well as many other services. Alliance Aviation is all based at the main terminal along with airline service, a restaurant, and car rental offices.
Lancaster Airport is also home to several flight training schools, which covers helicopter and fixed wing aircraft. There is also the crowd favorite: a flying museum with restored Liberty Warbirds and old Huey Helicopters. The airport\’s main commercial carrier is Southern Airways Express – a commuter airline serving nearly 40 American cities across five U.S. time zones. They operate daily flights to Washington-Dulles (IAD), and Pittsburgh (PIT) from Lancaster (LNS) and now offer a new weekly route to Nantucket, MA.
And more good news… Ed Foster, Airport Director, announces, “Southern Airways Express – this is just fresh off the presses – are now offering Pennsylvania State game-day flights to the state college Airport for the remaining games this year (2021), and it’s a non-stop flight from here to Penn State on Saturdays.” This unique flight option will open many new doors for the airport and increase foot traffic.
As is the trend with domestic regional airports, Lancaster Airport is bursting at the seams, in regard to packed hangar space. Foster admits, “All of our businesses are doing so well that we have a corporate hangar waiting list that is about four to five clients deep. Currently we’re building one new hangar for FlyAdvanced, the Cirrus service center.” This new hangar will be the third one for FlyAdvanced, with the other two currently utilized for repair and maintenance on airplanes.
After the completion of the newest hangar, the airport needs to complete another three to four more buildings for on-site tenants as well as companies desiring to relocate to Lancaster. When it comes to private, single engine planes, there’s a waiting list for 18-20 new T-hangar units in the airport. With so much pressure to create more space to accommodate new clients, the airport is blessed to have ample capacity to build these assets with about 800 acres of space. That space availability has allowed the airport to diversify its non-aviation revenue streams. Currently, on the property, there’s a convenience store, movie theater, school bus parking lot, RV and boat storage, woody yard waste, as well as a cleanfill.
While this diversification helps with cash flow, there are still many interesting aviation businesses on the field. Foster shares, “We have a hot air balloon in a hangar, another customer who assembles and sells high-performance aircraft on the field, as well as a charter business for private and medical transport.”
With the airport attracting more attention by the day, it goes without saying that the team is currently in the midst of a few capital improvement projects. This year, Runway 8/26 underwent Phase I construction in a multi-year rehabilitation repaving project. Currently, this process is being split out in sections. Other future major upgrades include airport lighting and signage, as well as acquiring new snow removal equipment.
As with any regional airport, supporting the surrounding community is the key to success. And Lancaster Airport is no exception. One of its most popular highlights is hosting a Community Days weekend every two years. At this event spectators can see acrobatic performances and displays from the flight schools, and from vintage to new style aircraft. Unfortunately, this has been delayed one year due to COVID-19, but Foster expects it will up and soaring again soon. When it comes to collaborating with the community, many of the airfield tenants also get involved with local entities. Foster reports, “Our flight schools partner with the local colleges to do flight training programs. There are many FBOs on the field, and all of them engage with the community in their own distinct way.”
The management team knows how important their operations are for economic development in the surrounding region and funneling business into the community. Foster acknowledges, “A lot of people don’t realize the economic impact an airport has on a local community, as businesses fly in and out, meeting offsite. These leaders of industry can be key strategic individuals who are making business deals in the city. And these top brass management individuals can employ anywhere between 10 to 500 employees.”
During the pandemic, the airport followed strict CDC and the FAA regulations, but many of the staff members still had to come to work. As Foster notes, “It’s hard to run the airport from home… You can’t pump gas into an airplane, be a firefighter, or cut the grass from home. Everyone here is essential.”
Over the next few years, management will be rolling out the previously established master plan for the airport. At the moment, the staff are taking stock of what assets and inventory they have at their disposal. In addition, there’s a push to ensure the team has more technology at their fingertips. An example of this is the new maintenance platform, which can track work and evaluate the quality of the work, as well as time, etc. This isn’t a simple process and Foster thinks they’re only half way done. In the next steps they’ll be looking to add buildings and equipment to the data platform, which would mean employees will be able to see trends and analyses of jobs completed – ultimately increasing efficiency.
On the ‘green’ front, the airport is in the early stages of considering the addition of EV charging stations. And fortunately, due to the high cost, Foster can take advantage of his previous experience of acquiring federal funding. “The previous airport I worked at; we were able to tap into the VALE (Volunteer Air Low Emissions) type funding a few years ago. There is new technology available emerging with sustainable equipment we’re looking at purchasing in the future that would be hybrids or electric.”
Moving into the future, Foster is focusing on a few areas of development. Firstly, on building additional corporate and t-hangars to accommodate more clients currently based on the airfield, as well as those who are looking to relocated to the airport. Secondly, is to expand air services with new routes, such as the Penn State flights. As Foster shares, “This air service expansion plan is critical and is being spearheaded by Southern Express Airlines, who have interline agreements with United Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. This means passengers flying from Lancaster Airport can go anywhere in the world right from their doorstep.”