There are 55 small airports that benefited from a Congressional exemption meant to protect airports that suffered a steep drop in air travel after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Worecster Regional Airport, ORH, is one of them.
Congress passed an amendment in December 2003 that waived a yearly minimum 10,000-passenger count requirement to be designated a primary airport and receive the $1 million in improvement grants that go with the classification.The bill, known as the Small Airport Relief Act, created a "virtual primary" designation for airports that had more than 10,000 enplanements in 2000 or 2001 but dropped below that in 2002 or 2003.But the bill is set to expire Sept. 30.
If it's not extended, airports falling short of 10,000 annual enplanements (ORH) would receive only a $150,000 annual allotment from the federal Airport Improvement Program. Overnight our approximately $2,000,000 operating deficit becomes $2,850,000. Congress has to pass an amendment to get funding into the Department of Transportation appropriations bill by October 1st, 2005.