NEW BEDFORD — The Baker-Polito Administration today joined state and local officials to celebrate the completion of runway improvements at New Bedford Regional Airport, which will allow the airport to accommodate future commercial flights.

A ribbon-cutting was held to highlight the improvements that were made possible through $216,600 in state and $54,200 in local funding and consisted of repainting an airport runway to ensure it meets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial requirements.

The event was part of a series of events members of the Baker-Polito Cabinet attended throughout the South Coast which involved visiting sites where infrastructure investments have been made and attending meetings with regional leaders to discuss economic, transportation, and human service issues.

In addition, the Governor’s Cabinet today held its weekly at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, where members heard presentations about research, job creation, regional planning, manufacturing sector trends and issues impacting area residents.

“We are proud to collaborate with our local partners and support southeastern Massachusetts’ development and economic goals by investing in New Bedford Regional Airport and ensuring it is able to accommodate future commercial air service,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By investing in our local and regional airports, we are supporting the local economy and providing residents and visitors throughout the area better access to communities and opportunities across Massachusetts.”

“Our Administration is committed to working closely with cities and towns to strengthen our transportation systems in ways that provide more flexibility and options for travelers,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are pleased these runway improvements at New Bedford Regional Airport are now completed and appreciate the support of our partners in the City of New Bedford and the legislature to help bring more opportunities for passengers traveling to and from the airport.”

In July 2017, New Bedford Regional Airport received its “Part 139 certification,” from the FAA which will allow the airport to accommodate passenger-carrying flights on aircraft with more than nine seats. This certification was made possible in part due to $3.9 million in state and $8.9 million in federal investments in the airport and its infrastructure in the last five years. The airport is the 23rd airport in New England to receive this certification from the federal government.

“The completion of these runway improvements represents an important step toward bringing commercial passenger service to New Bedford Regional Airport,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “We appreciate the partnerships which made the airport investments possible and know that the infrastructure improvements will help unlock economic activity in this airport as larger aircraft can fly in and out, benefitting the general public and the business sector.”

“I greatly appreciate the Administration’s partnership with the City on this important project. The Airport is a significant regional asset, and I believe the potential for expanded commercial passenger service out of New Bedford is one of the many transportation initiatives that will be needed to ease congestion and increase economic productivity in the commonwealth,” said Chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation Representative William M. Straus.

“The investments we have made come at the heels of the FAA’s decision to allow expanded commercial air service,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “These are significant steps in our effort to modernize New Bedford Regional Airport. According to a state study, the airport’s impact on our local economy is already up roughly 23 percent, and these recent efforts will increase that impact further still. I’m grateful to Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Straus, and the rest of the New Bedford delegation for their support.”

According to MassDOT’s Statewide Airport Economic Impact Study, New Bedford Regional Airport in 2015 supported 297 jobs with a payroll of over $10.6 million and generated over $32.4 million in economic output. This is an increase of 60 jobs and over $6 million in economic output since 2011.

“These infrastructure improvements are paving the way for economic development in New Bedford,” said State Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral. “The added capacity for commercial flights at New Bedford Regional Airport is significant and I look forward to seeing the role of the airport in our region reach new heights.”

“Airports connect people throughout Massachusetts and allow them to reach the opportunities and jobs that keep our economy moving forward,” said MassDOT Aeronautics Division Administrator Jeffrey DeCarlo. “Painting this runway will help meet FAA requirements so that commercial passenger service can take place at New Bedford Airport meaning better options for individuals and families who wish to travel by air throughout the region.”

Massachusetts’ system of 39 public-use airports supports more than 162,000 jobs with over $6.1 billion in total annual payroll, and generates $16.6 billion in total economic activity. The MassDOT Aeronautics Division advances the operation and development of these airports through grant funding, airport inspections, technical guidance, statewide planning initiatives, aviation education outreach and communication with local, state and federal officials.

--MassDOT release