It wasn't a great day for flying, but the ceremonial grand opening of the newly-renovated Trenton Mercer Airport in Ewing had spirits soaring.
"We took an old antiquated 1976 terminal and we modified it," said Mercer County Transportation Director, Aaron Watson. "So what we did was gutted it basically and opened it up so we can accommodate more and more passengers."
Improvements include an expanded waiting area for passengers, a new baggage claim facility outside the terminal, new parking lots that can handle over 1000 cars--but you'll have to pay for parking now--and the installation of an arrest system at the end of runway 6-24 to stop a plane should it overshoot the runway.
"I think we are going to have customers come back to the airport in droves. They're selling tickets like hotcakes between now and Christmas," said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.
In fact, 96% of the seats on Friday's Frontier flights are booked. The airline currently flies to 11 destinations and will add three more by April.
"Fares are so high on a lot of these routes if you fly from Philadelphia or New York. We're providing an alternative--lower frequency, yes--but for leisure customers, low fares are what encourages them to travel," said Daniel Shurtz, Sr. Vice President of Frontier Airlines.
"This is literally five minutes from my front door," said Raissa Walker. "It's easy, it's convenient, it's comfortable and it's quick."
Ewing officials say Frontier's presence has generated interest in a planned transit village near the airport.
"It has been very instrumental in attracting new business to Ewing Township, and only because of the convenience of the airport and the rail service," said Mayor Bert Steinmann.
But not everyone is thrilled with the return of flights and the prospect of more planes flying in and out.
A Bucks County-based group is upset there has been no environmental impact study done in areas like Yardley which sits in the airport flight path.
And then there's the noise issue.
"You have air buses coming over your head at 300 feet; that's loud," said Holly Bussey, Residents for Responsible Airport Management. "That affects your sleep. What's the overall impact of something like this if they are to become a feeder airport?"
The county executives say the airport will vary its flight path and wants to become a good neighbor to the surrounding communities.