American Airlines is ending its service at the Greater Binghamton and Elmira Regional Airports effective next year.
Broome County Aviation Commissioner Dave Hickling was notified of the move Tuesday morning.
American flies to Philadelphia while United provides service to Newark, New Jersey.
Delta is the only remaining provider, offering flights to Detroit.
Like most airlines, American is phasing out its Turbo Prop aircraft and is replacing them with 50-seat passenger jets.
American would have to upgrade its fleet to the new jets in order to maintain service.
Hickling says he was taken back by the announcement.
“We were actually very surprised by this announcement by American at this time. Due to the recent announcement United made, we had anticipated increased activity through American Airlines, due to the fact they would pick up a lot of United passengers. We’re not sure if they didn’t take that into account,” he said.
Chemung County Executive Thomas Santulli says there should only be one regional airport serving Binghamton, Ithaca and Elmira.
He says Elmira has the capacity to handle the adjustment.
Governor Andrew Cuomo also awarded a $40 million grant to Elmira Regional.
Hickling says Binghamton should be an airport destination.
“If there’s going to be one regional airport, it has to be in Binghamton. The airport brings a lot more to the community than just air service. That’s very vital, but there’s a lot more to it like the corporate and charter aviation, which is very big,” said Hickling.
Elmira says they should get it because of its proximity to the highway and it has a longer runway.
Hickling says BGM has an additional 300 acres it could potentially expand to.
Hickling also says he’s trying to get American to reconsider, or re-evaluate United’s departure, by convincing them they could pick up American’s passengers.
BGM also received $10 million to mill and pave a new runway.
American says it will cut service on February 15th, 2017.
Local economic development leaders are weighing in on the impact of American Airline’s departure from Binghamton and Elmira.
NewsChannel 34 caught up with Greater Binghamton Chamber President and CEO Jennifer Conway Tuesday afternoon.
She says many businesses look for airports when expanding or moving to a new area, but the bottom line is making sure there’s a market for the company.
Conway says the chamber values access to air and has a standing airport committee.
She says it’s important for all stakeholders to come to the table to find a solution for everyone.
“What I think is important is that as a region, we all come together and look at what’s best for our region. Each of us having things split up can be challenging. We just need to come together and have a conversation to see what’s best for all of us together in order to attract and retain businesses from a regional perspective,” said Conway.
Broome County Executive Debbie Preston also released a statement on the matter.
She also says it’s a “blow” to our area and she is calling on the FAA to do an independent study to look at ways air service can be maintained in communities like ours.