Lock Haven considering selling airport, pilots say it’s needed for emergency flights and training
The city of Lock Haven is considering selling the William T. Piper Memorial Airport.
Lock Haven’s city government currently operates the airport. City manager Greg Wilson says it is not making enough money for the city to keep its operation going.
“By no means does the city say the airport does not have value; it does have value. In fact, the Bureau of Aviation estimates that the businesses that are associated with the airport make about $13 million a year in profit," Wilson said.
Wilson said the problem is the money does not return to the city, and is instead kept by the businesses based at the airport or others nearby who profit by people flying in. He suggested businesses band together to buy the airport and handle its operations.
Alan Uhler, a tenant at the airport, said there is a group of people putting together a potential business plan to do just that. He said airports like this are vital for pilot training, especially as the United States faces a pilot shortage.
“Pilots need airports where they can get in small airplanes, earn their private pilot's license and start to fly, then work their way up through," Uhler said.
Private consulting firm Oliver Wyman estimates airlines in North America will face a shortage of nearly 30,000 pilots by 2032. The William T. Piper Memorial Airport is the only public airport in Clinton County.
Uhler said the airport is sometimes used for emergency flights.
"If you have an accident or something occur in downtown Lock Haven, Life Flight can't land on the street between buildings. They've got to find the nearby transfer point. In this Lock Haven city area, there's no better transfer point from the airport," Uhler said.
City manager Greg Wilson said council does not intend to sell the airport for non-aviation use.