A busy airport with impressive upgrades taking flight
“The Lancaster Airport (LNS), located on 850 acres between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, is the third busiest airport in Pennsylvania” explains Ed Foster, Executive Director for LNS. “When you look at airplane operations, we have a very robust amount of activity that includes corporate and private jet traffic, general aviation traffic, as well as commercial airline traffic. We are also a frequent stop for military aircraft due to our proximity to Ft. Indiantown Gap, a National Guard Training Center as well as other military bases.
Located adjacent to our terminal is Fiorentino’s Italian Restaurant, which is a popular eatery for private and military pilots and their crew. This is a favorite spot for general aviation pilots to fly in and enjoy a great meal and airplane watch.
LNS has two asphalt paved runways: 08-26 is 6,933’ x 150’ while 13-31 is 4,102’ x 100’. With an airport that sees so much traffic, a constant stream of maintenance and rehabilitation is necessary to keep the infrastructure running smoothly. LNS is currently engaged in the rehabilitation of its primary runway, 08-26. During construction, traffic uses the crosswind runway 13-31, and at completion, all the pavement strength will be restored.
“It has been an interesting multi-year process.” Foster says, “Because we have businesses located on the field, we felt it was important to talk with them to find out what approach would work best for everyone. We decided that one 21-day continuous shutdown, while keeping the other runway open, was the best option. It did limit some traffic and some aircraft did have to go to other airports, but our stakeholders worked around the minor conflicts and understand this is necessary to keep an airport up to compliance.”
“We have several businesses that have expressed serious interest in the construction of new hangars to either expand their business or start a new business here at the airport, so we are aggressively trying to satisfy those needs for continued growth. One new hangar for an existing tenant is currently under construction and nearing completion, with three more corporate hangars in the design phase for construction next year. Plans for additional small aircraft storage hangars are also being considered.”
Southern Airways Express flies out three times a day to Washington Dulles International Airport and twice a day to Pittsburgh International Airport. American Airlines recently started a new service using a 35-seat premium motorcoach to take passengers from LNS to Philadelphia Airport (PHL), where they can then catch a connecting flight to anywhere in the American Airlines network. This required some temporary construction in the terminal to facilitate and illustrate the need for terminal expansion as well.
Additionally, two parcels of land at the airport which are not suitable for aviation development on the northwest corner of the airfield have been leased out for other development.
“My employees and I report to the Lancaster Airport Authority board,” says Foster, “which is a five-person board that is the driving force behind what we do as far as development and business growth. Between those decisions, I work with all the stakeholders as we want to be responsive to their needs. We also partner with Discover Lancaster and the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce to make sure we are being a good neighbor.”
“The airport is vitally important to the community,” Foster continues, “I like to say we are like a funnel that brings opportunities for economic development into this community by providing access to the global market”. People visit Lancaster for a variety of reasons, be it business or leisure, using a variety of aircraft such as private aircraft, charter aircraft, or commercial airlines. We have a lot of organizations that are frequently flying in and out to do business as well, and all of this happens through the airport, which has a tremendous economic impact in the community.”
Some of the larger businesses that call Lancaster Airport home include:
- Venture Jets offers a wide array of services, ranging from executive air charter, air ambulance transportation, and aircraft management
- Aero-Tech Services is an aviation company that offers flight training in airplanes, charter services, along with aircraft management, consulting, and maintenance services.
- Lancaster Avionics is a nationally known company that sees customers fly in for avionics sales and repairs
- FlyADVANCED – Lancaster is the largest authorized Cirrus service center world-wide
“We have a lot going on here on any given day,” says Foster, “and we have half a dozen or more businesses working together seamlessly who need this airport to make their business happen. Sport Flying USA Services Bristell Aircraft is probably the leading resale aircraft seller in the United States, and it’s located right here at LNS. This can be a very busy airport and it certainly has a large economic impact on the community. LNS is available for tours, providing an opportunity for the public to learn about the airport and the benefits it offers to the community. You never know the impact that being around aircraft can have which is why we work with everyone to promote not only the airport, but aviation in general as well.”
When asked what he would like to see happen in the next few years at Lancaster Airport, Foster admits to being someone who does a lot of outside-the-box thinking. “I am hopeful that we can get some new air service here, and I am aggressively pursuing that. I want to see larger aircraft, say 126-189 seats, that offer direct flights to destinations such as Florida, the Carolinas, etc.”
Foster concludes “Funding is key to making that dream a reality. Funding is our biggest challenge because we, as an airport, only get funding through a few resources, the Federal government being one of them. We don’t set the rules and regulations on how that funding is dispersed, so sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. As an airport, funding is always a challenge, but we are in a growth spurt that’s not going to end anytime soon, and we have tremendous unmet needs. Fortunately for us, our State has worked with us to make things happen. We will continue to be as creative as possible to achieve our goals and create new partnerships and growth.”
AT A GLANCE
Lancaster Regional Airport
What: Third busiest regional airport in Pennsylvania
Where: Located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
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