John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport
Excellence in Flight in a State Known for its Beauty
With a full flight agenda in mind, John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport takes off into the year ahead
Flight numbers are back as COVID-19 has been left in the jet stream and regional airports across the country are in full throttle with initiatives to meet the increased demand; John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport is no exception.
This dynamic airport is a combination airport, featuring both civil and military flights, located about five miles from the City of Johnstown in central Pennsylvania. Its namesake is the late member of the United States House of Representatives who served the Keystone State’s 12th Congressional District.
We recently spoke with John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Manager Cory Cree, and he told us more about what is in store for this commercial-service airport. Cree relays that the airport boasts daily, non-stop, round-trip flights to Dulles International in Washington, D.C., and O’Hare International in Chicago.
The regional SkyWest Airlines operates 50-seat jets out of Murtha, doing business as United Express. This is funded through the Essential Air Service Program through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“We provide service for business and leisure travel here at the airport for our community,” says Cree. “Our community is Cambria County and beyond. We have approximately 29 GA (general aviation) aircraft based here.”
He adds that the airport leases hangars to aircraft owners for storage of their planes as well. “We have some tenants that are very active flyers,” Cree informs, “and then we have some tenants that fly less often.”
He says Nulton Aviation Services (NAS) is the airport’s full-service FBO or fixed-based operator. Nulton provides refueling services for both avgas (aviation gasoline) and Jet A fuel, 7 a.m.-11 p.m., seven days a week. This top-notch FBO also performs aircraft maintenance, aircraft storage, and flight training for private individuals who want to learn how to fly. Nulton has a partnership with St. Francis University (SFU) in Loretto, Pa., Cree reveals.
“If you are a student at St. Francis, you can also take the pilot training program through St. Francis to obtain your pilot’s license,” he adds. “NAS has a flight simulator here on site. They have also teamed up with our essential air carrier, SkyWest Airlines, to provide a career pathway for pilots that want to be commercial pilots.”
Cree says the airport has been very busy with construction upgrades. One is a four-year hangar renovation of some $2 million.
“Our ‘Hangar 15 Complex,’ I’ll call it,” he informs, “comprised of a large hangar at one end, called ‘Hangar 15-A.’ In the middle, it has an office/classroom type building we call ‘Building 15-B.’ At the other end is a smaller hangar, referred to as Hangar 15-C. The three structures are all butted up together as one building or hangar complex. From 2019 to the present, we have been renovating Hangar 15-A and Building 15-B to provide support for St. Francis University to open up an A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) maintenance program here in the fall of 2024.”
Just this year, Nulton Aviation Services converted Hangar 15-C, the smaller hangar in that complex, into classrooms for the FBO’s flight school, thus making a campus atmosphere of the hangar complex. Cree adds that this was done with financing from Nulton.
“This year,” he continues, “we are constructing two corporate hangars. They will be 62-by-65 feet each, with an 18-foot-high clear hangar door opening.”
That project comes with a price tag of $2.45 million for its construction costs, Cree noted. Elsewhere, he adds, in the past year, Runway 15-33, Murtha’s main runway, has seen some upgrades. These include converting all the lights and signs to LED (or light-emitting diode) lighting. Further, as Cree points out, the same thing has been done with the airport’s crosswind runway, Runway 5-23.
“We’ve converted all those lights and signs to LEDs,” he says. “This year in our main terminal parking lot, we’ve taken on a crack repair and seal coat project where we’ve seal-coated the entire parking lot, addressed the cracks, and line-striped it to address safety at the airport.”
Last year, obstructions were removed from the end of Runway 15. By the end of this year, more tree obstructions (trees can grow up quickly, getting in the way; a common occurrence at many airports) will be removed from Runway 33’s approaches to maintain a safe airport environment.
Also last year and on into this one, as Cree points out, a one-bay garage-type building was constructed. This is for the airport’s rental car company, Hertz, that is based in the terminal. Staffers may use that one-bay garage building to wash the rental cars.
Speaking of LED lights, Cree reveals that more renovations have been made germane to this cost-saving style of lighting. Throughout last year and this year, inside and outside the terminal building, all the interior and exterior lights have been converted to LED mode.
“We’ve replaced two flat roofs,” he adds, “and we’ve also, in our terminal building parking lot, converted all the lights to LEDs to help with cost savings. Within the terminal building from 2020 to the present, we’ve upgraded the building’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) system, and then, in 2023 and 2024, we’re doing crack repair and seal coat work to our T-hangar area as well as Taxiways A, A1, and B2 to help extend the pavement life with those pavement areas.
“In 2024, we’re doing two substantial projects on the east side of the field near a lot of our existing hangars, including the Hangar 15 complex,” he adds.
Cree highlights that next year, plans are in place to widen Fox Run Road, reconstructing it and making it wide enough for tractor-trailer traffic in both directions to support and prepare for future development on that side of the field. This is being done in connection with a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone (or KOEZ) approved by the State of Pennsylvania in 2021.
The proposed plans will provide some 130 acres, more or less, divided up between three large lots that are designated for this KOEZ, which will provide any company that moves on to this acreage and establishes a business with property tax relief for up to 10 years. In that same area will come other hangars that the airport’s leadership plans to build shortly.
In addition, the airport has also designated the same 130 acres as an Airport Land Development Zone (or ALDZ) through the State of Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, as Cree points out.
“If a business moves into the ALDZ, that employer could obtain a tax credit for each new employee that he has working at the business within the ALDZ,” he explains. “The 130 acres do overlap in both zones: the ALDZ and the KOEZ, which allows the business owner to choose what Zone and subsequent tax credit best fits their business model.
“In the future,” he adds, “we also have some grant applications pending that we’re hoping will receive funding. We try to go after unique grant funding, even if it may be difficult to get that grant. The adage goes that if you don’t try, you won’t succeed. We have grant applications to add a second jet A (a type of kerosene) fuel tank to our fuel farm. We’ll also be submitting grant applications to construct additional parking lots here at the terminal building. We’re trying to continue to grow the airport.”
Next year in the spring and summer, a parking lot will be constructed near the Hangar 15 complex to support the SFU A&P maintenance program.
“We’ll also be reconstructing the aircraft apron in front of the Hangar 15 Complex,” Cree says. “We’ll be relocating some airport security fencing and gates on that side of the field as well for better security, as well as public access to the flight school without providing public access to the airfield.”
“The entire 130 acres are still undeveloped,” he continues. “We have not put anyone into those zones yet. We would like to bring in a maintenance company. The ideal business we would like to bring in is an MRO, a maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility. We have a spot located for the MRO and a preliminary layout. The MRO could operate 24×7. We know that’s a big lift, to bring in that size of a company. We would also love to bring in maintenance for smaller jets, such as regional jets, so, we’re also looking into that opportunity.”
Cree also cites the popularity of drones amongst a host of hobbyists. Drones will continue to be popular, he opines, and they may eventually be integrated somehow with manned aircraft. Thus, the airport is not opposed to pursuing drone-related business opportunities.
“Anything aviation-related,” he concludes, “we would love to get here at the airport.”
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AT A GLANCE
The John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport
What: a mixed-use (civil and military) airport located in the middle of Pennsylvania
Where: Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park – https://theopportunitypark.com/
A groundbreaking addition coming to the Laurel Highlands region of Western Pennsylvania, the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park is a state-of-the-art aviation business cluster adjacent to John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport that brings about new opportunities for the region in a variety of multimodal industries.
With development led by Cambrian Hills Development Group, the 130-acre Opportunity Park was designed to create an ecosystem for aerospace companies, providing a steady stream of qualified talent, parts and services in a community and state known for one of the country’s friendliest business environments. Anchoring the Opportunity Park will be a state-of-the-art, 100,000-square-foot Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facility capable of accommodating narrow-body airline and corporate aircraft.
With a strong network of public-private support, the Opportunity Park has secured a Keystone Opportunity Zone designation – one of the premier development incentives in the nation. Its location in the heart of the northeastern United States offers easy access to major metropolitan clusters, positioning it as a hub for aviation/aerospace growth. The Opportunity Park is the culmination of a concentrated effort to strengthen the region’s workforce pipeline, stimulate economic development and establish Western Pennsylvania as a prominent destination for the aviation industry. Learn more at www.theopportunitypark.com.
JARI – www.jari.com
Driving Progress and Innovation in Johnstown, PA
Nestled in the heart of the Keystone State, Johnstown has emerged as the epitome of innovation. Founded in 1974, JARI plays a pivotal role in transforming the landscape through fostering economic growth and aligning workforce development through providing resources, mentoring, and funding for entrepreneurs and businesses of all capacities.