Hopes of extending Charleston's runway fall short

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Hopes of extending Charleston International Airport's shorter runway are being put on hold because of the state's budget crunch.

While the Charleston County Aviation Authority had thought it could get a federal grant to extend the 7,000-foot runway by 2,000 feet, that federal grant would require matching funding from South Carolina. -- Something that is unlikely given the state budget crunch.

The Post and Courier has the story.

Why should you care? At some point in the next several years, the Charleston Air Force Base (which shares use of the runway) will tear up the longer 9,000-foot runway to perform maintenance, and then Charleston will only have one shorter runway -- which will limit how heavy planes can be.

That means either planes must be smaller, or take off carrying less fuel and stop along the way to refuel. Bad news for Charleston's aerospace industry, and bad news for Boeing, which assembles fuselages for its long-troubled 787 Dreamliner. Back in April, it was estimated that only having the shorter runway would cost an extra $27 million to the program.

The project to extend the runway was estimated to cost $26 million -- some had said that if the industry stands to save cash from the extension, they should chip in. Apparently that is not going to happen.

Extending Charleston's runway(s) is a real investment for the area and its jobs, and the continued likelihood of keep our Air Base -- and a way to help keep our passenger plane ticket prices down.

Hopefully our state's economic situation improves before it's too late.