April 17, 2020

While it’s difficult to find anything positive about the significant downturn in aviation operations stemming from the COVID-19 crisis, Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, NY, is using the lull in flights to good use by significantly accelerating a runway repaving project.

The original schedule called for most work to be performed at night, but now Runway 16/34 will be closed completely from 9:00 a.m. EDT April 27 through May 21 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Airport Manager Peter Scherrer said the work will include milling existing pavement, laying new asphalt and replacing more than 300 in-pavement touchdown zone and centerline lights along the 6,549-foot runway.

“The original plan was to start paving work May 4, but it made sense to accelerate this project since no one is flying right now,” explained Scherrer. “Completing this work at once is preferred, as it’s difficult to be as productive when working overnight and needing to have the runway ready for morning operations.”

The project will also impact HPN’s second runway, 11/29, which will be closed from April 29 through May 5 for intersection work. However, few flights are likely to be affected, with most operations grounded during the pandemic.

“Our stakeholders agreed it makes sense to complete this project now under a very aggressive schedule,” Scherrer said. “Our focus is to have the runway back in operation and ready to support operations once people are able to fly again.”

According to Scherrer, general aviation, government and commercial airline operations at HPN plummeted to 4,608 last month, versus 11,368 in March 2019. April’s figures are trending far worse, with just 806 operations recorded through April 14, compared to the April 2019 monthly total of 11,512.

One of those recent flights from HPN transported thousands of protective facemasks donated by electronic dance music duo The Chainsmokers to medical personnel at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, NV. According to a local media outlet, aviation management firm Aircraft Services Group provided a Hawker 850XP business jet for the April 14 flight, with Ross Aviation donating fuel for the nearly 2,300 nm trip.