CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Three new passenger loading bridges and a new central heating and cooling plant for Yeager Airport's passenger terminal are on the horizon for the Charleston airport, following action by the airport governing board's construction committee on Friday.
The construction committee voted to authorize studies to determine the types of equipment best suited to meet the airport's needs for the new improvements, to be financed through federal and state grants.
Plans call for replacing two 17-year-old passenger bridges with new units, and adding a new bridge, in a project expected to cost about $1.5 million.
A new and more efficient central heating and cooling system is being sought to replace the 17-year-old passenger terminal system, which is nearing the end of its useful life. The new system is expected to cost about $2 million.
A third study was approved to determine the best way to equip existing passenger bridges with power sources to replace diesel-fueled mobile power units now used by the airlines to provide electricity to aircraft parked at boarding gates.
Yeager Airport Director Rick Atkinson said the new passenger bridges could be completed as early as next summer, while it may take until 2015 to complete work on the new terminal heating and cooling plant.
In another development Friday, airport staff met with the Yeager board's personnel committee, and identified a way to meet the coming year's employee budget without layoffs.
The loss of nonstop Charleston-Orlando air service last year reduced passenger departures by about 20,000 from the previous year, substantially reducing Yeager's income from boarding and landing fees. To compensate, the airport board last month approved a draft budget for the new fiscal year that would freeze wages, increase employee health insurance contributions, and possibly include a few layoffs.
"It now looks like we'll have things covered through attrition and maybe some changes in scheduling," Atkinson said.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.