Travel drops at airport; drilling slowdown blamed [The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.]By Michael Iorfino, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
July 20--PITTSTON TWP. -- Fewer passengers boarded flights in June at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport compared to the same month a year ago.
Enplanements, the number of passengers boarding flights, dropped 8.2 percent, from 21,485 in June 2011 to 19,733 in June 2012, said airport director Barry Centini.
American Airlines' decision to discontinue their service with the airport in November played a part in the drop, Mr. Centini said. But so did a slowdown in natural gas drilling locally, he said.
"Last year, the parking lots were packed with cars with license plates from Texas and Oklahoma," he said. "We're seeing a lot less of those."
The airport has attributed increases in traffic over the last several years to the number of companies joining the Marcellus Shale drilling boom. To compensate for the increase in demand, the airport worked with airlines to increase the size of some airplanes and added more public parking spaces, including 143 spaces in Public Parking Lot B, for which there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.
Most of the spots are being filled, Mr. Centini said. Just not by workers at drilling companies.
As the price of natural gas has fallen, drilling activity has decreased, said Teri Ooms, director of the Wilkes-Barre-based Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development.
"The area's gas deposits attracted workers from drilling companies around country in 2009 and 2010," Ms. Ooms said. "But drilling has slowed down because the price of natural gas is low.
"The use went down for a number of reasons, including the recession and mild winter. As a result, the demand dropped. Because there's not much demand, companies are slowing down the supply."
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.orgU.S. chamber touts Pa. gas drilling
HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania business and government leaders are teaming up to promote the economic benefits of natural-gas drilling in the state.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy launched the campaign at the Capitol on Thursday.
Karen Harbert, head of the institute, said Pennsylvania's program is part of a national effort to build support for the economic and energy benefits of natural gas that's being extracted from shale formations. Similar efforts are under way in Ohio and West Virginia.
Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania chamber, said gas produced in Pennsylvania from the Marcellus Shale formation is already benefiting residents across the state. He said support for the industry's continued development is critical because it provides good jobs, attracts manufacturing and provides tax revenue to pay for public programs.
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