The Lehigh Valley’s friendly skies will soon get a bit friendlier for corporate jets, thanks to state taxpayers.
Lehigh Valley International Airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, and Braden Airpark in Forks Township each received funding from the Aviation Transportation Assistance Program toward infrastructure improvement. The program is part of the state Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Aviation.
LVIA will receive just more than $6 million toward a total project cost of $12.1 million to develop a general aviation hanger.
The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, which operates the airport, plans to build a 53,000-square-foot hangar on the southwest portion of the airfield for corporate jets and general aviation aircraft at LVIA.
“Typically, those who use these types of aircraft are business professionals, so this will bring more business professionals economic activity and even jobs to the area,” said Charles Everett, executive director of the authority.
Everett said the Lehigh Valley’s airports are at about 95 percent capacity for such planes with 110 based at LVIA, 95 at Allentown’s Queen City Airport and 20 at Braden Airpark, yet there is demand for more space.
“There are a lot of people from other areas – like New Jersey – who have their aircraft based in other places but would like to base them in this area or at Lehigh Valley,” he said.
The expansion will give the airport more capacity to accept new planes. Work is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.
The authority also received $325,000 to build a general aviation terminal at Braden, which Everett said also will create a more business-friendly atmosphere at the smaller airport.
Everett said the terminal will create office and meeting space that professionals can use and create an area that will allow for more socialization and cooperation.
He said the project is something the authority has been looking at for some time, so it is very helpful that the funding came through.
“This will not only bring more aircraft activity to the Lehigh Valley, but can create jobs and businesses in our community,” he said.