Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (EWN) has announced it is pursuing a federal grant to recruit an air carrier to provide direct service from the Washington D.C. area. EWN plans to ask for $1 million over two years as a revenue guarantee for this new commercial air service.
The grant is a part of the Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP). If successful, EWN will offer a two-year incentive program built around lowering the air carrier operating costs by waiving certain airport fees and actively participating in a marketing campaign to promote the new service.
According to Airport Director Andy Shorter, “The grant program aligns perfectly with EWN’s mission to grow scheduled passenger air service that has been limited as a result of COVID-19.” Eastern North Carolina continues to strengthen its position as a popular relocation and travel destination market and requires increasing levels of air service to meet the demand. “Grants like these that focus on smaller airports’ economic health, can be game-changers by helping to set the conditions for success,” stated Shorter.
To encourage community engagement, the airport quickly created an ad hoc advisory council to aid the airport staff in promoting efforts such as these and helping to encourage interest for private sector investment to support the airport’s recruitment and marketing efforts. EWN has already received support from more than forty organizations, business entities, and elected officials at the local, state and federal levels. Aligning community support and having broad participation is a key element in the grant consideration process.
In a recent economic analysis conducted by N.C. State University’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education, the new route is projected to result in a notable regional economic output of $21.9 million per year, supporting 140 new jobs and creating $8.2 million of personal income. “It’s clear that adding a new route from the Washington D.C. area to New Bern would be a major benefit to the community and the positive economic impacts would also be powerful across many different segments,” Shorter said.