WILLIAMSTOWN - The new year is expected to be busy for the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.
"There is a lot going on this year," said manager Terry Moore.
In the spring airport officials are expected to sit down and make a recommendation to the U.S. Department of Transportation for new or continuing commercial air service.
"The current contract will be up for bid in the spring and we really hope we can keep Silver Airways," said Moore. "We are very pleased with their service and the passengers seem to like them."
Gulfstream International Airlines began offering four flights per day to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in October 2010 with a two-year contract. In December the airline announced a change in name to Silver Airways.
Airport officials will be looking into possible airlines in late spring with the new service expected to begin on Oct. 1, 2012.
Moore said that the two bidding airlines he expects are former carrier Colgan Air and Silver Airways.
"Hopefully we will keep Silver, no matter what their name," he said. "We are happy with the service we receive."
Since the service began the airport has seen a steadily rising number of passengers with numbers having risen from about 5,000 passengers per year with former carrier Colgan Air to Washington Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., to roughly 8,000.
The airport receives the commercial service through the USDOT as part of the Essential Air Service program, which provides federal funds for commercial air service to a number of regional airports throughout the country.
While airport officials do not choose what airline is picked by the DOT, they can tell federal officials what they would like and what service they believe would best suit the airport.
In February the airport hosted U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., to discuss the EAS program and the federal funding for such programs.
"It's a surprise and honor to have Senator Rockefeller at our airport," Moore said.
Also in 2012, the airport will be given the final wildlife assessment, which looked at all of the wildlife within a five-mike radius of the facility. The goal of the year-long survey is to lessen the probability of interaction between wildlife and aircraft and meet safety goals, according to Cody Baciuska, president of Loomacrea Wildlife Management.
The perimeter fencing project, which is a priority for the Federal Aviation Administration, began last year using Airport Improvement Funds and is expected to be finished this year with roughly 15,000 feet of 10-foot high fencing with two feet of barbed wire on top in two areas where there is the greatest risk of deer crossing the two runways.
The fencing is being paid for with a $598,168 grant from the USDOT's Airport Improvement Program (AIP) with the five percent matching funds provided by the state of West Virginia.
In this new year the airport will also be looking to host another air show in the early fall. The 2010 Air Expo was a hit with local residents when about 25,000 people visited the airport to watch large and small aircraft fly, land and perform tricks.
"It's going to be a busy year and I look forward to seeing what happens," Moore said.