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Updated: Thursday, June 3, 2004 3:35 PM EDT

Martin Whitmer, deputy chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Transportation, surveys runway construction at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport after announcing an $18 million federal grant. It's the latest installment of the fed's $131 million commitment to the $250 expansion project, to be completed by December,2005.

Photo by LARRY NAGER/ChallengerNKY.com

Federal Funds Will Reduce CVG Delays

The expansion of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport got an $18 million boost Thursday from the federal government.

Martin Whitmer, deputy chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Transportation, flew in to make the presentation to airport officials.

"We are helping connect Cincinnati to the global marketplace," Whitmer said at a makeshift podium amid the construction rubble of the airport's $250-million project.

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Whitmer said the expansion, which includes lengthening east-west Runway 927 to 12,000 feet as well as building the new 8,000-foot, north-south Runway 1735, will result in CVG being the only airport east of the Mississippi capable of landing three large-body 747s simultaneously.

The expansion will increase the arrivals/departure capability of the airport's runways by 40 percent to 177 flights per hour, up from the current 126 flights.

The most important result will be a cut in delays. Present delays average seven minutes, but the expansion will bring that down to two minutes, explained Whitmer.

The shorter flight times will result in "more convenience for travelers and more convenience and less cost for the airlines."

Another effect, he added, will be less noise pollution, as the expansion will enable flights to be re-routed away from more populous areas.

Whitmer said the expansion was needed now that airline travel is returning to pre-9-11 levels. Air traffic actually increased at CVG after the terrorist attacks. Despite construction, CVG is expected to handle 10.5 million passengers this year.

CVG Director of Planning and Development Bill Martin said the $18 million federal grant was the third annual installment of a $131 million-commitment from the Federal Aviation Administration to expand the airport. The rest of the $250 million expansion will be paid for by individual travelers' ticket fees.

The newly expanded runway is scheduled to open in October. The entire expansion project is expected to be completed by December, 2005.

What the CVG Expansion Means to You

The good. Delays now average seven minutes for each flight. The expansion will bring that down to two, cutting five minutes off your time in the air.

In the long term, the expansion is predicted to add $1 billion to the area's economy over the next decade, with a total regional economic impact of $6.5 billion in tourism and related spending.

The bad. You're already paying a $4.50 ticket fee, each way, for that part of the project not covered by the federal government.



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