Firm offers to buy half of Queen City Airport

Author: , Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published: Feb 29 2012 07:00:00 PM EST   Updated On: Mar 01 2012 06:10:45 AM EST
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A deal is in the works to sell half of Allentown's Queen City airport. But not everyone is on board.

Some say the plan would fill a financial hole, but local pilots say the deal would kill the airfield.

It's a strong bid on the table: $16.2 million to convert half of Queen City into industrial space, leaving the rest for general aviation.

"This is an offer that seems pretty intriguing."

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski is a Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority member. He says this isn't the only offer, but he calls this deal a win-win.

"Which would be huge for the city, the school district and the county as far as additional revenue, plus keeping general aviation."

He says turning a profit from the Queen City sale can help pay off the massive debt of Lehigh Valley International Airport.

"It would put us out of business, there's no question about that and they know it."

Local pilots say this so-called compromise would make landing at Queen City more dangerous because it would eliminate the cross wind runway, leaving them with only one option.

"It's there for training also. Student pilots, for example, are taught to land in a crosswind, well you can only do that if you have a crosswind runway," explained Lehigh Valley General Aviation Association President Michael Rosenfeld. "And no flight school will want to operate at a facility that does not have a crosswind runway."

Right now the airport authority is putting this offer and any others on hold while it contracts with a firm to review airport assets and recommend what could bring in the most money.

The airport authority has about 600 acres it could sell, worth nearly $50 million.

"We have to stop looking at these assets as sacred cows, and look at what's right for the entire Lehigh Valley," said Pawlowski.

"It's almost an impossible theory, you don't close half a thriving airport," said Rosenfeld.