Letters to the Editor

Longer runway needed, but not 5,400-foot runway

Do we really need a longer runway at Hilton Head Island Airport?

The easy answer is yes; it's progress and will it help secure our future air service and economy.

I ask that you consider the following: In a recent conference call with members of the Beaufort County and Hilton Head Island councils, Steve Farrow, CEO of Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of US Airways said, "Piedmont continues to use the Dash 8 turbo aircraft, and it is a good airplane that will be in use for a long time. With current fuel costs the turbos are even more attractive than regional jets for the routes that Piedmont flies."

The new Bombardier Q400 Turboprop is able to take off fully loaded on a runway of 4,694 feet. If future turboprops do not need a runway longer than 4,720 feet, should we spend taxpayer money (federal, state and county) for a 5,400-foot runway that is too short for regional jets?

Yes, we do need to trim the trees, and the funding is available for this year. Future funding can come from private aircraft by charging them landing fees. Why should they continue to have a free ride when the money is needed for the infrastructure and safety of our airport?

This is not simply the request of a few disgruntled people who live near a small airport, but hopefully a conscientious consideration of what is the most sensible thing to do to keep our island the beautiful place that it is.

George Salemi

Hilton Head Island