Despite the drop in the number of passengers at Benedum Airport and the hand-wringing over the possible loss of federal funds, not all is gloom and doom there. Over the past dozen years, the airport has also been active in airline maintenance, training and manufacturing.
The Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Complex is helping to train workers in aircraft maintenance and these people will find good-paying jobs either at Benedum or elsewhere. MAAC is gearing up to make an aerospace industry curriculum available in the state's public schools.
There is expected to be a lucrative market in aviation in the coming years. A passenger-jet manufacturer will open in Martinsburg in 2003, and across the nation, there are 10,000 jobs open for aerospace workers. And these are not minimum wage jobs. Many of them pay very well for highly skilled employees.
Not only will the training and development at Benedum be enough to blunt any diminished passenger air travel at the airport, it can go a long way in building a strong economic base for North Central West Virginia and beyond.
Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which is comprised of James G. Logue, Kevin S. Courtney, Patrick M. Martin, Nora Edinger and J. Cecil Jarvis.