Three Maryland Airports May Lose Funding

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Airports, large and small, are always fighting for federal money, and three in Maryland seem to be fighting for their livelihood. Greater Cumberland Regional Airport, Hagerstown and Salisbury/Ocean City will lose up to $100 million in federal grants if the regional air service linking them to Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) ceases to exist. Airport officials claim that losing their airline service, and possibly the federal funding as well, could be disastrous. For this reason, the group of officials is trying to convince state legislators that an extension of their financial commitment to regional air service to BWI will help the airports pay for upgrades and, ultimately, bring millions of dollars to Maryland's economy. At the very least, the group believes the state should give back the $750,000 it took out of the program last year. "That money is critical to the survival of Maryland's other commercial airports, and is essential to the economic and tourism development in those areas of the state," said Robert Bryant, manager of Salisbury/Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport. He told the Baltimore Business Journal the three airports need to lure about $100 million from the federal government over the next five years to pay for runway extensions and other improvement projects that will allow them to handle larger planes.