Erie International Airport Tom Ridge Field (IATA: ERI, ICAO: KERI, FAA LID: ERI) is a public airport five miles (8 km) southwest of Erie, in Erie County. Airline service at Erie faces stiff competition from the Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Toronto airports, all within three hours of Erie by car. In 2004 Erie was the third-fastest-growing airport in the United States, and the fastest-growing airport in Pennsylvania. It is 128 miles (206 km) from Pittsburgh, 111 miles (179 km) from the Canada–US border, 95 miles (153 km) from Cleveland, Ohio and 105 miles (169 km) from Buffalo, New York.
The airport is named for former Pensylvania governor and Erie native Tom Ridge
In 1924, Roger Griswold purchased 22.12 acres (9.0 ha) of land 6 miles (10 km) west of Erie at the intersection of West Lake and Asbury Roads for use as an airfield. Soon after, a flight training school was based at the field. In 1927, as part of a nationwide tour by Charles Lindbergh after his transatlantic flight, Erie was selected as one of the cities where Lindbergh would make a brief stopover. However, as Griswold Field proved inadequate for the larger Spirit of St. Louis to land and an alternative site could not be located, a flyover by Lindbergh had to suffice.
This event showed the need for a proper airport and prompted the Erie City Council to examine to possibility of establishing a municipal airport. City Council was, initially, favoring a site 1⁄2-mile (0.8 km) east of Wesleyville for a municipal airport; however, Lieutenant Jimmy Doolittle commented on the distance between it and the city; Dolittle noted that "you might as well take 40 minutes more and go on to Cleveland." After recommendations made by Lindbergh to a Congressional committee that no airport less than 1 square mile (2.6 km2) be approved, the planning commission for Erie's airport began to reevaluate the site they chose.
Griswold Field officially closed in 1929 when Griswold moved to Long Island, but aircraft and the flight school continued to use it. That year two airfields were established: one on land adjacent to the former Griswold Field, and another in Kearsarge that is now the site of the Millcreek Mall.
Prior to September 11, 2001 the airport was at its height with US Airways mainline jets to Pittsburgh and international service to Toronto. After 9/11 US Airways replaced 737s and DC-9s with regional jets. As air service rebounded in the mid-2000s, US Airways Express flew to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Charlotte; Northwest Airlink to Detroit; Continental Connection to Cleveland; and Delta Connection to Cincinnati and Atlanta. US Airways discontinued Charlotte flights in 2006. Delta Air Lines discontinued Atlanta flights on September 6, 2007. In early 2008 US Airways discontinued Pittsburgh flights.
On August 22, 2018, Derek Martin was named Executive Director of the airport.
As of August 2019, American Eagle service is two flights daily to Charlotte and one flight daily to Chicago-O'Hare on the ERJ-145; Delta Connection has three flights daily to Detroit with CRJ-200 regional jets; and United Express has two flights daily to Chicago–O'Hare also with ERJ-145 aircraft. The airport is also looking into expanding United Airlines service to Washington-Dulles.
The 1,920-foot (590 m) extension of runway 6/24 was opened on November 8, 2012. The total cost of the project was $80.5 million, or approximately $5 million under budget. Owing to a mild winter in 2011–2012 that did not hinder construction work, the extension was also completed two years ahead of schedule.
Erie International/Tom Ridge Field covers 450 acres (182 ha) and has two runways:
- Runway 2/20: 3,508 ft × 150 ft (1,069 m × 46 m), Surface: Asphalt
- Runway 6/24: 8,420 ft × 150 ft (2,566 m × 46 m), Surface: Asphalt/Concrete
The airport has a passenger terminal building which opened in 1958 and has had several expansions and upgrades since its construction. The 1970s saw expansions to baggage claim facilities and later an office expansion for FAA office facilities on the second floor. A ticketing area on the western end of the terminal building was added in 1990. Upgrades to the lobby area and boarding gates and passenger boarding bridges followed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The first floor of the passenger terminal building which houses the baggage claim, check in desks, rental car counters, cafe, TSA checkpoint and boarding gate areas occupies approximately 43,200 square feet.
In August 2019, the public waiting area and in-terminal restaurant were renovated. The entrance to the restaurant was reconfigured to provide airside access from the secure side of the terminal.
The terminal has 7 gates, 3 with jetbridges for regional aircraft. Current regularly occupied gates are: Gate 1- United Express (Trans States), Gate 5- Delta Connection (Skywest), Gate 7- American Eagle (Piedmont/Envoy)
Airlines and destinations
Taxis can reach the airport. Two Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority bus routes stop at the airport. Avis Rent a Car System, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, The Hertz Corporation, and National Car Rental have car rental counters.
Accidents and incidents
- In 1986, USAir flight 499, a DC-9, arriving from Toronto Pearson International Airport, landed on snow-covered runway 24, and slid off the runway to rest over Asbury Road on the western perimeter of the airport.
- In 1984, a Spirit Airlines chartered flight, a DC-9 carrying a football team, landed in snowy conditions on a soft patch of land next to the runway.
- On January 5, 2006, PSA Airlines flight 1355 had a tire on the left landing gear burst with no injuries.
- On September 21, 2017, Delta Connection Flight 4906 en route from Detroit to Greater Rochester International Airport declared an emergency and landed at ERI due to an engine sensor indicating a reverse thruster was deployed. The aircraft landed without incident and the problem was traced to a faulty sensor.