May 16, 2014

Massachusetts plans to invest more than $40 million in the next five years to help build or renovate administration buildings at 15 general aviation (GA) airports in the state, officials with the Commonwealth said.

“It’s important for a businessperson or tourist arriving at a GA airport to get a good first impression of that community,” said Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) Aeronautics Division Administrator Chris Willenborg. “Our statewide Airport System Plan recently found some Massachusetts airports that lack any facilities for visitors, while others have aging buildings in need of repair.”

“Our airport economic impact study identified nearly $12 billion in economic activity and more than 124,000 jobs traced to aviation in the commonwealth,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey. “That extraordinary success requires continued strategic investment to ensure these airports continue to serve as economic drivers and gateways for business and tourism.”

GA airports are particularly important for western Massachusetts, which currently has no facility that offers air carrier service other than charter flights to Atlantic City, NJ casinos, but has 11 GA airports used by both businesspeople and tourists.

State Sen. Richard Moore said the improvements “acknowledge the importance of local airports to economic development, and support our priority of promoting the Massachusetts business sector and encouraging job growth.”

Construction or renovation at Beverly Municipal (BVY), Fitchburg Municipal (FIT), Mansfield Municipal (1B9) and Southbridge Municipal (3B0) airports will start in 2015 and cost an estimated $12.07 million, according to state officials. Willenborg said that new construction costs would be minimized through use of a flexible prototype design that considers local needs. The four airports each contribute between $1.9 million and $21.9 million in annual economic benefit to their local communities.

Construction is expected to take about nine months.

The remaining 11 airports that will have their administrative buildings upgraded between 2016 and 2019 are Chatham Municipal (CQX), Gardner Municipal (GDM), Harriman-and-West Airport in North Adams (AQW), Lawrence Municipal (LWM), Marlboro Airport (9B1), Orange Municipal (ORE), Pittsfield Municipal (PSF), Plymouth Municipal (PYM), Taunton Municipal (TAN), Turner’s Falls Airport (OB5) and the Walter J. Koladza Airport (GBR) in Great Barrington. Costs for those projects have not been released.

“Massachusetts is committed to business aviation,” said NBAA Northeast Regional Representative Dean Saucier. “Gov. Deval Patrick, Secretary of Transportation Davey and Aeronautics Director Willenborg are to be commended, as should the Massachusetts Aviation Caucus and the Massachusetts Airport Management Association, for their continued support and advocacy for business aviation.”

Read the state’s press release on the renovation plans.