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Airlines Desert Small Towns, Despite Costly Investments in Infrastructure

<p>If you build it, will they come? Not in Hagerstown, Maryland, where airlines have left town despite a brand new runway.</p>
May 21, 2008, 11am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Earlier this decade, city officials in Hagerstown, Md., started making the case to build a longer runway at their airport to lure service by regional jets, instead of the turboprop planes that provided its only flights.

Several years and $61.4 million later, the city opened its concrete welcome mat, a new 7,000 foot runway, last November - two months after the airport lost scheduled air service altogether.

Despite its costly investment, a dogged marketing effort by local officials and even help from Congress, the airport has had no luck attracting a new carrier, as the industry struggles under soaring fuel prices.

"Could we pick a worse time to go out and get commercial service? Probably not," said Carolyn Motz, director of the Hagerstown Regional Airport, which had 10 daily flights a decade ago.

The airports have grown quiet in many other communities, too."

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Published on Wednesday, May 21, 2008 in The New York Times
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