Arnold Palmer airport to introduce second passenger boarding bridge in August
Arnold Palmer Regional Airport plans in August to put into service a new $1.5 million passenger boarding bridge designed for use with Spirit Airlines’ Airbus planes.
On Monday, airport employees were trained to use the bridge and other new equipment — including two baggage tugs, four baggage carts, a belt loader, a portable water truck and lavatory servicing vehicle. The airport also has acquired a new “pushback” tractor that will move loaded aircraft away from the bridge, which was supplied by AmeriBridge and was installed by Arcon Contracting.
The airport now has two bridges, giving it the ability to load and unload two full-size aircraft at the same time.
An older bridge, installed in 2006, was designed for planes that previously served passengers at the Unity airport — 34-seat Saab 340 aircraft used by Northwest Airlines and an occasional Boeing 737. That bridge reached its maximum potential five years later, when it was pressed into service for Spirit flights.
The fleet of new electric equipment used to service aircraft was purchased from Charlatte America. It replaces older versions that were scrounged from federal surplus and other sources “to get the job done,” according to Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority that operates the airport.
Renovation of the airport’s passenger holding area has provided capacity for up to 60 additional seats.
The new changes and equipment represent an investment of more than $1.75 million, with most of the funding provided through grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and PennDOT’s Bureau of Aviation. The airport authority is responsible for a 5% local share of the cost, Monzo said.
He described the investment as a renaissance for the airport. “We are very serious in our commitment to provide the best air service that you will find anywhere, period,” he said.
More than 2 million passengers have passed through the Arnold Palmer terminal since 2011, when Spirit began offering flights to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and destinations in Florida. The airport has about 35 ramp and customer service employees to service the flights and assist passengers.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .