For the past 68 years the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport has provided air service for Parkersburg, Marietta and surrounding communities.
Jeff McDougle served four years as a member of the Wood County Airport Authority before taking over as airport manager in January after former manager Terry Moore retired. McDougle also worked 18 years in general aviation before returning to his native Parkersburg.
Question: The number of commercial air travelers has decreased somewhat at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport since the 1970s when annual enplanements were reportedly in the tens of thousands. How does that impact the airport?
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Jeff McDougle, manager of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport, stands in front of the airport’s passenger terminal.
Answer: We don't have as much leisure air passenger service now as in the past, but a lot of that's being made up by private business travelers. Oil and gas companies fly people in regularly from Houston and other western cities. And companies like Hino Motors often bring people here to do business. So commercial air service is still very essential here.
Q: Do most of those companies have their own planes?
A: Some oil and gas companies fly their own jets here. And Fortune 500 companies, like United Bank, are flying their people in and out on a regular basis. We also lease hangar space to some companies.
Q: Does that help boost the airport's income?
A: Most of our generated revenue comes from fuel sales to private and commercial carriers. We also rent out hangars and provide space for private planes.
Q: Do you receive any federal funding?
A: Yes. The bulk of our maintenance money comes from the Federal Aviation Administration. For example, the fence that surrounds the entire airfield was constructed with about $1 million from the FAA.
Q: How do you qualify for government funds?
A: That's where the number of commercial passengers comes in. If we get less than 10,000 passengers a year we receive $100,000 from the FAA. But with 10,000 passengers or more we can be funded at $1 million.
Q: Is the airport meeting that quota?
A: Last year we had approximately 8,100 passengers, and that was one of our best out of the last seven years. We're slowly getting there, but we'd love to hit that magic 10,000 mark and even higher. And as we build the number of passengers, we can also approach other airlines about offering service here.
Q: Why is it so important to have an airport in this community?
A: It's vital for the local economy. Companies from across the country can come here to do business with our local companies, which generates more economic activity. Business and leisure travelers don't have to drive for hours to get here from a major airport, and there's no fee to park in our parking lot.
Sam Shawver conducted this interview.