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AIRPORT Trying to land new tenants



Published: Thu, July 18, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Smaller airports may be cheaper, but officials say the Vienna airport offers more.

VIENNA -- Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport officials hope their long runway, FAA control tower and top-shelf crash rescue squad will persuade private plane owners to move there from other, smaller airports.

"We believe there could be an opportunity for general aviation growth," said Reid Dulberger, chairman of the Western Reserve Port Authority board, which runs the airport. "This has been an avenue of growth at other airports in our area."

Corporate aircraft now account for most of the 35 planes based at the local airport. Many of the companies have their own hangars, but 10 private planes rent space in a communal hangar owned by the airport.

New construction?

Two private companies have approached the port authority about building similar hangars on airport property near state Route 193, said Dulberger.

Talks are preliminary. One way the project could be organized would be for the airport to offer a land lease to the developer, who would build hangars then turn around and rent or lease the space to the public.

This type of hangar often fosters a communal feeling among tenants, who hang around to tinker with their planes and chat in meeting rooms, Dulberger said.

At the airport-owned hangar, plane owners pay the airport $157 a month for a space. Planes based at the airport don't have to pay landing fees, but the airport does collect money every time they fuel up, said Tom Nolan, the director of aviation.

The airport collects about $300,000 a year from private and corporate aircraft owners, he said.

The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport is only being used at one-third its capacity, Nolan said.

"From a service perspective, we offer things that other airports can't," Dulberger said.

Among them is the longest runway in northeast Ohio, 24-hour snow removal in the winter, equipment to assist pilots to land by instrument, an FAA control tower and fire and rescue service provided by the adjacent Youngstown Air Force Reserve Station.

The level of security at the airport, high compared to airports with no charter flights, would also be considered an advantage by some plane owners, Nolan said.

All this service comes at a price. Clarence Smith, a member of the port authority board, said he thought prices for plane owners are cheaper at smaller airports, which often have no control tower and no security.

"It is an area we should be looking into," said Martin Solomon, a member of the port authority board. "I don't think we need a fancy consultant to do a market study, but we can investigate to know what the market is."




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