September 17, 2021

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Bi-County Airport Board lauds effort in response to plane crash

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PITTSTON TWP. — Tim McGinley, Chairman of the Bi-County Airport Board, Thursday thanked all airport personnel and all emergency personnel for their quick response and diligent work in response to a fatal aircraft crash Aug 20 at the airport.

A pilot practicing for an air show in the Poconos last weekend died Aug. 20 when his WWII-era plane crashed on takeoff at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

The pilot, Andy “Trav” Travnicek of New Hampshire, was a member of the GEICO Skytypers team scheduled to perform at The Great Pocono Raceway Airshow.

“This was a tragic situation here at the airport,” McGinley said. “We want to thank all of the personnel here at the airport and all those who responded from our communities. They all worked together and the cooperation was outstanding.”

The GEICO Skytypers issued a statement saying Travnicek flew the number three plane and was the sole occupant of the aircraft that crashed. Travnicek was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, served in the U.S. armed forces and was a commercial pilot.

Travnicek, 50, a native of Southbridge, Massachusetts, completed military deployments in Spain, Qatar and Afghanistan and was a staff member at the academy, according to The Associated Press.

Airport Executive Director Carl Beardsley reported that passenger loadings were up significantly. He said American Airlines and United Airlines have added flights and have begun using larger aircraft to allow for more passengers.

Beardsley said buisiness travel “is not back yet,” but the airport is starting to see a slow increase in that area.

Beardsley reported that passenger enplanements for the month of July 2021 increased 114.5% to 14,951, from 6,969 in July 2020. When compared directly with the month of July 2020, Beardsley said the increase is mainly attributed to more people opting to fly as the country continues to re-open following the pandemic.

Beardsley noted that the enplanements for July 2021 compared to enplanements for July 2019 decreased by 12,807 or 46.1% — again a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beardsley said in July 2021, 8 departing flights were cancelled — 5 for the COVID-19 pandemic and 3 for weather. He said this accounts for 426 (2.6%) out of a total 16,441 departure seats. Also, he said 8 arriving flights were canceled — 5 for the COVID-19 pandemic and 3 for weather.

Beardsley also reported that American and United are adding flights to Chicago and Charlotte, as well as creating more seats by utilizing larger aircraft.

Gary Borthwick, assistant airport director, reported that year-to-date for 2021, airport operations had a net loss totaling $1,971,215, as compared to a loss of $1,456,664 in 2020 — a difference of $514,551.

Borthwick said the airport has received $6,448,415 in reimbursements and has applied for an additional draw in the amount of $137,146. Balance of the grant totals $13,458,439.19.

In other business, the board:

• Accepted the resignations of Patrick McGowen (maintenance) and Kenneth Salvo (mechanic), effective immediately.

• Appointed Craig Skalla of Nanticoke, Shaheer Downey of Kingston, and Heather Foreman of Kingston, to the positions of custodian upon completion of clearances.

• Presented Employees Recognition Awards to Michelle Aigeldinger and Thomas Hughes, each for 15 years of outstanding service to the airport.

• Heard Stephen Mykulyn, director of engineering, report that the new hangar project will be completed by early fall. He said the building is complete, but the rolling door of the facility and all site work remains to be done.

• Heard Beardsley report that the TSA mask mandate will remain in place until Jan. 18, 2022.

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