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The Upstate Economy

Watertown Airport runway expansion paves way for large jets, more airlines

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Jefferson County
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The Watertown Airport's runway expansion is just one of a list of recent improvements.

The Watertown International Airport will soon have a longer runway. A federal grant for the project will pave the way for larger jets.

The runway at the Watertown Airport will be extended by a 1,000 feet thanks to a $3.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. Right now, American Airlines, which operates two flights a day from Watertown to Philadelphia, switches from a 50-seat jet down to a smaller propeller plane in the winter. With the longer runway, American Airlines will be able to stick with their larger planes all year. 

Jefferson County Legislator Jim Nabywaniec, who oversees airport projects for the county, says the airport can now attract other airlines.

“With a 7,000-foot runway you can easily have jets that carry anywhere from 100 to 180 passengers using that airport."

Nabywaniec says regional carries that fly to Florida and other sunny destinations are already interested.

“They look at bridge traffic coming from our neighbors to the north and what that means for the Watertown airport. It’s good for the area and it really speaks to the strength of the Watertown market.”

According to the airport, passenger traffic at the airport has grown four percent from this time last year. This steady growth means the airport is now qualified to receive $1 million a year from the FAA. This funding will eventually allow the airport to rely less on local taxpayers. More projects are underway. Next month, the airport will announce its plan to expand its passenger terminal.