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Layoffs looming at Lehigh Valley International Airport

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 23 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 25 2012 05:13:42 AM CDT

Some employees at Lehigh Valley International Airport near Allentown will soon be getting pink slips.

HANOVER TWP., Pa. -

Some employees at Lehigh Valley International Airport near Allentown will soon be getting pink slips.

Layoffs are a sign of tough economic times, officials said, but what does it mean for the future of the airport?

LVIA just completed major renovations to try to lure more airlines, but a multi-million dollar lawsuit and airline cutbacks are forcing the airport to make some tough choices.

Lehigh Valley International Airport is letting go of eight employees and eliminating some services, like economy parking and its shuttle service.

"We lost several carriers -- Air Tran, Air Canada, Direct Air earlier in the year -- and that has had an impact on passenger activity," said Charles Everett, executive director of LVIA.

Everett said fees lost by the carrier cutbacks and higher fuel prices are to blame for LVIA falling short of its $19 million budget for 2013.

The cuts come about a month after LVIA unveiled its renovated terminal, but with fewer flights, there are fewer passengers, down 15 percent year to date.

Everett said this is the first year in several years LVIA has seen a dip in passenger activity. Even so, Liason Travel of Allentown said some travelers skip LVIA in favor of Newark or Philly because flights and parking are cheaper.

"People love to fly this airport.  It's convenient. It's attractive. We have got to find low-cost flights," said Tony Iannelli, chairman of the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority.

Iannelli said LVIA is trying to get creative to compete with bigger airports and bring in new revenue, but he said a second round of budget cuts could be looming to help LVIA pay a $16 million judgement by 2015.

The airport authority is looking at selling some of its property to help pay it off easier. The terminal renovations were the second phase of a three-phase project.

The third phase will include a federal inspection station so the airport can do international flights to places like Mexico.

Everett said getting that in place would mean big bucks and possibly an end to financial woes for LVIA. He said that could happen in the next year.