The Greenbrier Valley Airport has been undergoing improvements, said Airport Director Stephen Snyder, thanks to a $3.8 million government grant, to include a $52,000 match from the Greenbrier County Airport Authority (GCAA). Snyder, who spoke at the August 24 GCAA board meeting, said an additional $184,000 has been spent on auxiliary renovations at the airport.
Overall, the infrasturcture upgrades include new hangars and upgrades to existing hangars, taxiway and parking apron expansions, asphault replacement, new sidewalks, utility lines placed underground and added conduits for water, power and sewer to facilitate new commerce development on airport grounds. Renovations should be completed in two months, Snyder said. The airport master plan also approved new firefighting vehicles, a $620,000 project with a match of 2.5 percent. The Lewisburg Volunteer Fire Department will still be retained as backup for the airport.
And that’s not all. The airport is financing a new, on site restaurant, called Landings, scheduled for a soft opening in late September. The grand opening is set for a later date in the fall. The board approved hiring Estella Estrada, formerly the head pastry chef at The Greenbrier, as manager, and Melissa Graham as chief chef and assistant manager for the restaurant. Previously, Graham served as head chef for the Dutch Haus restaurant at the airport. They are making preparations for menu selections and hiring personnel.
Landings will include a full menu featuring local products including delicious pastries and a coffee shop, with catering also available. Renovations of the restaurant site are extensive, with new panoramic windows, dining furniture, new flooring and paneling, customers may not recognize the place. The family dining atmosphere will offer three season outdoor dining in the newly fenced-in grass area adjacent to the patio, allowing an enjoyable experience to watch the aircraft. Landings Restaurant promises to bring visitors and locals to the airport for a truly “uniquely down-to-earth experience.”
Snyder also gave the board an update on the Essential Air Service (EAS) bidding process by the Department of Transportation (DOT). He said at least five to six bids have been submitted so far, with various proposals within each bid. Proposals may present a variety of offerings the airlines may have, such as seasonal flights, carrier capacity and hub location options.
The bidding deadline is Sept. 18, Snyder said. The three main services both tourist and business passengers are seeking in an “anchor airline” for the Greenbrier Valley are price point, reliability and a ticket and baggage claim contract. Elaine Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, he said, is aware of the vital need for an EAS air carrier in Greenbrier County, as is the state congressional leadership.
Chief Operating Officer (COO) Elmer Coppoolse of The Greenbrier was present at the meeting, and asked about what the communications have been between the airport and Via. “They make promises,” Snyder said, “but nothing comes of them.” Regarding the ticket and baggage claim contract, he said, “No major airline would consider contracting with an airline with such a faulty record as Via.”