Sussex County Considers Improvements to Airport - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sussex County Considers Improvements to Airport

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

GEORGETOWN, Del. - The Sussex County Council is considering a variety of suggestions as to how to remodel and reorganize the county airport in Georgetown. The airport has seen great growth over the last decade, most recently with the extension of the runway by 500 feet, but it has also encountered some problems with a growing deficit.

To address these problems, the council on Tuesday heard from a consulting company hired by the Delaware Department of Transportation. Randal Wiedemann, an aviation consultant, said the number one priority was cutting the deficit.

In 2012, the airport had a net loss of about $86,000. That was actually a good year compared to past years, where it had climbed to as high as $320,000. Wiedemann said this was normal for small- and medium-sized airports, but still he hoped to chip away at this deficit over the next decade.

"The airport... has always been in a deficit," he said. "So... what we're doing is improving the trajectory of that."

And Wiedemann said they can do so through a multi-stepped approach.

Some of the most important included attracting corporate businesses, expanding the flight school, tying the airport to the tourism industry, building on the restaurants and businesses that surround the area, and adding hanger space.

In the end though, Wiedeman said it's all about getting more people and more businesses to visit the airport. He said the best way to do so would be to market themselves well.

"Branding is a major process," he said as he displayed a slide show to the county council. "And we're recommending the county brand itself and the airport sort of piggybacks on that brand."

There are nearly 900 people who work at the airport, making just above $51 Million in wages. One of those workers is Brittany Sharff who works at "Arenas at the Airport," a restaurant near the hanger. She said she knows first hand that the amount of people at the airport fluctuates greatly.

"On the average day it's kinda off and on," she said. "Some days it's really busy, and some days it's not."

It is for this reason, that she said she would be happy to see an increased investment from the county.

"More people would be good," she said. "It would mean more business for us."

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