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Westmoreland

Latrobe airport to add new passenger loading bridge to fit larger planes

Joe Napsha
| Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 4:25 p.m.
Spirit Airlines flight 183 to Ft. Meyers, Fl. is pushed back from the gate at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity Township, Pa. on Tuesday Jan. 31, 2017. The flight experienced a 29 minute delay.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Spirit Airlines flight 183 to Ft. Meyers, Fl. is pushed back from the gate at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity Township, Pa. on Tuesday Jan. 31, 2017. The flight experienced a 29 minute delay.

Passengers should have an easier time boarding Spirit Airlines' planes at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport this fall with a new passenger loading bridge designed to fit the larger planes.

Acquiring the loading bridge and making necessary modifications will cost about $1 million, Scott Kunselman, an engineer with GAI Consultants of DuBois, told the Westmoreland County Airport Authority. The project will be advertised for bids in April, Kunselman said Tuesday.

The new loading bridge, which is expected to be installed by September, will be located about 50 feet from the existing carrier, said Gabe Monzo, airport authority executive director. The current loading bridge is about 13 years old and was designed for Boeing 737s, while the new bridge is designed for the larger Airbus planes Spirit flies, Monzo said.

Stephen Schuler, a spokesman for Florida-based Spirit, could not be reached for comment.

The new loading bridge will be longer than the existing one, allowing for a straight walk into the plane, with a more gradual incline that should help those who have physical impairments, said Don Rossi, authority chairman.

With a new loading bridge, the passenger planes landing at Arnold Palmer Regional will board perpendicular to the terminal rather than parallel to it, Kunselman said.

The Federal Aviation Administration will pay for 95 percent of the cost. The airport authority will cover the rest, Monzo said.

As for passengers driving to the Unity airport along Route 981, Kunselman said construction on the new entrance will resume as soon as the weather improves. The access road to the airport should be completed by June, he said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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