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Somerset-area airport's future uncertain

SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) - A southcentral Kentucky regional airport is
facing closure after losing its funding and its only airline.
The Lake Cumberland Regional Airport in Somerset no longer has
commuter flights from Locair, Inc., and lost funding from both the
City of Somerset and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"Through the 13 years I've been on the board, we've learned to
make that airport work on very little," said Lake Cumberland
Regional Airport board chairman Don Bandy during a fiscal court
meeting last week. "We don't know how to make it work on
The Commonwealth Journal in Somerset reported that local
officials were invited to the airport board's next meeting Friday
to discuss possible options.
Locair, the air service which provided commuter flights for the
airport for only about a year, informed the airport board last week
that it would no longer be providing the service, effective
That news came on the heels of word that the City of Somerset,
which was the only local provider of financial support for the
airport, would not continue to help fund operations beyond this
month. To make matters worse, a $1 million subsidy from the U.S.
Department of Transportation is also about to end.
Bandy and other officials last week asked members of the
Somerset City Council and Pulaski County Fiscal Court for help to
keep the airport from closing.
"It's not just an airport board situation," Bandy told
Somerset's city council. "This airport belongs to the city and ...
to the county. It's a community issue that needs to be handled."
At least one city council member said he believes city and
county leaders should do whatever is necessary to save the airport.
"If we're ever going to bring jobs in here, we've got a whole
lot better chance when an executive can step off a plane in
Somerset, Ky., as opposed to stepping off a plane in Lexington and
having to drive 80 miles to get here," Steve Kelley said.
Pulaski County government had given up to $70,000 per year
toward the operation of Lake Cumberland Regional Airport until last
year, when a tight budget cut off the funds.
"If we were in the same shape we were two or three years ago,
we would give them $60,000 to $70,000," said Arlene Young, Pulaski
County treasurer.
Bandy and fellow board member Johnny Tuttle said they understood
the plight of the county and city, but someone needs to step up to
see that the airport continues to operate.
"In the past, we,ve been able to go to the FAA or the state to
try to get assistance," Bandy said. With the current state of the
economy, however, assistance isn't guaranteed.

Information from: Commonwealth Journal,

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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