The tiny airport at Coventry, recently re-named the Northeast Kingdom International Airport, now has the second longest runway in the state, after Burlington.
Thanks to about a million dollars in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, the airport now has a 5,000 foot runway—about 1,000 feet longer than the old one. Larger planes can now land, and commercial air service may come to the Northeast Kingdom. At the ribbon cutting, Vermont Aviation Administrator Guy Rouelle said upgrades also include WIFI, modern snow removal equipment and a more reliable water supply.
“And that’s absolutely huge. For those of us who know the benefits of our airports for passengers and cargo this just opens the floodgates for this airport,” Rouelle said.
Rouelle expects the improved airport to generate 100 new jobs in Coventry.
Just before the ribbon was ceremonially cut at the entrance to the runway, Jay Peak CEO Bill Stenger showed architectural drawings of the 10,000 square foot terminal he says will break ground in 2016. Stenger is a partner in QResorts, which is developing the terminal on land it is leasing from the state of Vermont. Stenger believes the NEK International Airport will be a gateway for Canadians who want to travel to and from the United States, without having to fly through Montreal or Burlington.
“If they can cross over nearby, come to this airport, jump on a plane to connect with New York or Boston or beyond? Is it possible?” Stenger asked. “The naysayers would say no.”
But Stenger said the answer is “yes,” and thanked the large group of state, local and federal government officials in the audience for supporting the project.