June 23, 2007

Airport paving will mean adjustments

Paving of the main runway at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport will disrupt flights on several days later this summer, airport officials said.

The project involves replacing 3 inches of asphalt surface on the 7,501-foot runway. Work is scheduled to begin on Aug. 7 and be completed by Oct. 31.

During one 24-hour period there will be no flights at the airport. Work will prevent aircraft from landing or taking off between noon Aug. 18 and noon Aug. 19.

And from Sept. 6 through Sept. 11, the main runway will be closed and flights diverted to a shorter runway. Disruptions are expected to end after Sept. 11.

Airport officials urged travelers to contact airlines for specific changes to schedules and aircraft during the project.

Mike Conner, assistant airport director, said most of the work will be done at night. Bids for the project will be opened next week at the airport board’s monthly meeting.

Aircraft will be able to land on some of the runway during the construction, prompting airlines to consider switching from regional jets to smaller turboprop planes.

Some jet flights might be canceled when flights are diverted to the shorter runway. Conner said “it’s up to the airline” whether it wants to operate the flights at smaller passenger loads in order to maintain service.

At least one carrier, US Airways, will temporarily stop flying regional jets in order to use the shorter runway.

“Because the (regional jets) won’t be able to fly, we’ll have to cancel the Charlotte routes and switch out the Philadelphia route to a Dash 8 (turboprop),” said Valerie Wunder, spokeswoman for US Airways.

Continental Airlines expects to be able to continue its service during the construction.

“We don’t anticipate there to be any problems for us,” said Mary Clark, a Continental spokeswoman. The airline’s partner Commutair operates flights at the airport.

Other carriers include Northwest Airlines, United Express and Comair.

While the shorter runway is in use the Federal Aviation Administration will set up a temporary air traffic control tower, said Jim Peters, FAA spokesman.

By Jerry Lynott, a staff writer with The Times Leader, may be contacted at 829-7237.
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