John Murtha Johnstown Cambria County Airport

John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport is shown in this undated file photo.

EBENSBURG – The Cambria County Board of Commissioners voted on Thursday to approve a $1.45 million Multimodal Transportation Fund grant agreement that is expected to allow for the expansion of charter jet service at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.

Larry Nulton, president of Nulton Aviation, the airport’s fixed-base operator, said the project funded by the state grant will include the rehabilitation of two “antiquated” hangars and an office complex at the Richland Township airport.

Jim Loncella, chairman of the Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority, said that the purpose of the project is “to create a facility that can be used by a charter jet company that wants to move to the area.” Nulton said that that company is Tri-State Charter, of Evansville, Indiana.

Tri-State Charter officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday. The company operates a fleet of Hawker 400 aircraft and provides flights up to 1,500 nautical miles long in the eastern United States, according to its website.

Nulton said that the rehabilitation project is scheduled to begin by April or May and to be completed by the end of the year. He estimated that the project could generate 15 to 20 jobs at the airport.

“Aerospace in Cambria County is such an economic engine, and it can be an even larger economic driver with projects like this,” said Chad Gontkovic, who officially became the manager of the airport on Monday.

Commissioners Thomas C. Chernisky, Scott W. Hunt and B.J. Smith hailed the grant as a product of collaboration and bipartisanship.

Chernisky said securing the grant took a “total team effort” from the Board of Commissioners, Nulton, Gontkovic, the airport authority, and several state legislators, including Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Rep. Tommy Sankey, Rep. Jim Rigby and Rep. Frank Burns.

“Today was a great day for Cambria County and our region,” Chernisky said. “It’s economic development for the Cambria County Airport. When you have a hangar there, an up-to-date hangar, it’s going to allow the airport to market itself. People can actually come in, have private jets come in and out, and people can do business. When you build it, it’s another tool to add to, ‘Why come to Cambria County?’ It’s an asset to the region.”

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

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