SOUTH BURLINGTON – Now that Burlington Intranational Airport (formerly Burlington INTERnational Airport) no longer offers seasonal service to and from Toronto, BTV bigwigs are considering another way to boost revenue: in-state commuter flights.
Emilia Airheart, the director of aviation innovation at BTV, explained. “We’re thinking of helicopter flights connecting Burlington Intranational and major employment centers around the state,” she said. “You can install helipads anywhere there’s a parking lot, so BTV could potentially fly commuters to any spot in Vermont, even to and from the weather stations on Mount Mansfield.”
“I think we’ve got a real opportunity here,” said Emilia Airheart. “Just imagine soaring over all the stop-and-go traffic on Route 7 at 5:30 PM on a weekday. You could be home in, like, five minutes, and you can pretend you’re in a news copter along the way.”
Some commuters welcomed this idea. “I’m all for it,” said Lorna Long-Ryder, who commutes daily between Essex and Montpelier. “I have to wake up at 5:30 AM to get to work for 7. If I could hop on at a helipad behind the Essex Junction Amtrak station and fly to the capital, I’d do it in a flash. Anything to avoid I-89 south in winter. French Hill in Williston stinks.”
Others, however, voiced objections. “Okay, first of all, we already have a land-based local and commuter bus system,” said Zippy Driver, chief transit planner at Green Mountain Transit. “It’s much cheaper and more fuel-efficient than a fleet of helicopters. Who’s going to pay for all that new infrastructure anyway? Second of all, no one commutes to the Mount Mansfield weather stations. I’m pretty sure those are remotely operated.”
But Airheart remains undaunted. “We could even fly to South Canada,” she added. “Then we’d truly be an international airport again!”
South Canada had no comment on a potential helipad in their country.