VIENNA To lure carriers, board OKs committee

The airport has asked the FAA to reduce post-Sept. 11 security requirements.
VIENNA -- The Western Reserve Port Authority board has decided to appoint a citizen committee -- and spend an additional $48,000 -- to further its goal of attracting new airlines to the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
Wednesday, the board authorized giving the remainder of its $150,000 annual marketing budget to the Minneapolis-based consulting firm Kiehl Hendrickson for help in refining the airport's pitch to airlines.
The citizens committee will be formed in the next few months so members can demonstrate the community's commitment to the airport, said Thomas Nolan, the airport director. He said the board hopes to target appeals to four airlines.
Because of the current downturn in the air travel industry, the appeals may fall on receptive ears, Nolan said.
"Three months ago, the airlines told us they didn't have any planes, didn't have any pilots," Nolan said. Now, aircraft have been grounded and pilots laid off.
"When they start to reactivate pilots and aircraft, we want to be part of the picture," he said.
Another carrier: The airport is down to one commercial carrier, Northwest Airlines, after US Airways pulled out in October. There is a window of opportunity now, before the airlines plan their summer flight schedules, to bring another back in, said Dino Theofilos, chairman of the port authority board.
"It is critical that the local economy support the airport," he said. "If the people support the airport, that will make the difference."
Federal requirement: In other business, the port authority is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to drop a requirement imposed after Sept. 11 that two security officers remain on duty 24 hours per day.
National guardsmen have also been assigned to protect the airport.
The port authority has a contract with the Vienna Police Department to pay $186,000 per year to keep one officer on duty 24 hours per day. Having another officer on duty is costing the port authority an additional $16,000 a month, Nolan said.
The board also accepted the resignation of Thomas Kubik, who was appointed in September 2000. The Mahoning County commissioners will appoint his replacement.

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