Assemblywoman Russell Lauds Senator Schumer’s Plan to Expand Service at Watertown International Airport

January 14, 2009

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) applauded the efforts of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer for urging both Delta and Jet Blue Airlines to meet Jefferson County officials and consider becoming a major air carrier at Watertown International Airport.

The letter, sent by Senator Schumer to both major airlines, asked them to meet with Jefferson County officials about the prospect of expanding and enhancing service. The letter stated that over nine thousand soldiers had traveled from Fort Drum to Syracuse for air travel connections; there is no way to calculate the number of family members and soldiers that traveled to Syracuse for personal flights.

“Fort Drum continues to grow.” Russell said. According to the 2007 Economic Impact Statement, Fort Drum employs approximately 17,000 soldiers and 4,000 civilians, and with the introduction of at least 1,500 new troops by 2013, demand for flights will continue to grow as well. On top of this, Jefferson County continues to be one of the fastest growing counties in New York State. In order to meet the infrastructure demand, we must start looking at projects like this. Easier access to and from the North Country will help promote economic development.”

Assemblywoman Russell said that the idea of using the Wheeler-Sack Airfield on Fort Drum as a temporary commercial airport – allowing carriers with jets needing larger runways to provide service to larger airports like New York or Washington – would demonstrate the demand and provide a stimulus for increasing the runway size at the Watertown International Airport.

“Cape Air is a very convenient carrier, and I’m glad to see them here. But I believe we should be doing all we can to expand the options for North Country residents, so Watertown Airport should have multiple carriers that go beyond New York State.”