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Merger fallout could add flights at Valley airport



Published: Thu, December 9, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

VIENNA

The Continental/United and Southwest/AirTran airline mergers may provide an opportunity for Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, a consultant for the local airport said.

Tom Reich, president of Air Service Partners of Alexandria, Va., said the mergers eventually could cause Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to lose its status as a hub for United, which recently merged with Continental.

“Anything that speeds up the shutdown of the [Cleveland] hub definitely helps [Youngstown-Warren airport’s] chances of securing United service,” Reich said in a memo.

Loss of a United/Continental hub in Cleveland would most likely mean loss of flights there and additional opportunities for flights into Youngstown-Warren, said Dan Dickten, aviation director at the local airport.

One U.S. airline already is studying service to Washington, D.C., four times daily from the Valley airport.

Dickten has been talking with officials at a variety of airlines since he came on board in April, hoping to attract one to provide daily service to a hub airport such as Dulles International in Washington, D.C., Chicago O’Hare or Detroit International.

Colgan Air is conducting a feasibility study now to help it decide whether to offer flights four times daily from Vienna to Washington Dulles in a 34-seat Saab jet-prop aircraft.

Results of the study are expected to be available before Christmas with potential announcement of service in January, Reich wrote in his memo.

“It is possible that if the [Washington] service is successful, and there is no reason to believe it would not be, United would add service to Chicago O’Hare” using a 70-seat aircraft after that, Reich wrote.

The Washington flights would give local business travelers a way to get to the nation’s capital without a connecting flight and allow them to fly anywhere in the world by way of Washington, Dickten said.

Having flights east and west would give those travelers attractive options, and surveys have indicated there are business travelers here who want the service, he added.

If Colgan Air announces that it wants to proceed with the service, the local airport would begin a campaign to raise the matching money — $287,500 — to provide Colgan with the $862,520 revenue-guarantee it would need to start up the service, Dickten said.

The community will also have to provide an additional $467,000 worth of in-kind services, such as free advertising to Colgan, Dickten said.

The remaining funds would come from the $575,000 U.S. Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Program grant the airport was awarded in October 2007.

Regional airline American Eagle is also considering service between the local airport and Washington Dulles, and Delta Connection is studying a route involving the local airport and Detroit International Airport, Reich said.

As for the Akron-Canton Regional Airport, it’s tough to tell whether the merger of Southwest and AirTran, one of Akron-Canton’s chief airlines, will cause Southwest/AirTran to reduce or eliminate flights at Akron-Canton, Reich said.

It’s also hard to tell what impact AirTran’s departure from Akron-Canton would have on the Vienna airport, Reich said.

Dickten said the two expansions of Allegiant Air’s flight offerings this year from Vienna to leisure destinations indicate that local travelers are growing increasingly comfortable with using the local airport.

Allegiant added flights to Myrtle Beach in the spring and Tampa last month. Both flights have been well received, but the Tampa flights have done “really well,” Dickten said.

By the end of this year, the number of airport passengers is expected to rise to 27,000 for the year, more than 60 percent above the 17,391 who flew in 2009.

“People are loving flying out of airport,” Dickten said, adding that a new set of rest- rooms accessible to ticketed passengers after they have been through security are expected to be ready by early February.


Comments

1YNGAirSupporter(16 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

This is great news for the airport and the entire valley. YNGAir Partners supports the efforts of Mr. Dickten and Mr. Reich in securing daily flights back to YNG! Keep up the good work!

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2valleyred(1094 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

After four successful years with Allegiant Air at the airport, this can be the big break YNG has been looking for in their efforts to acquire daily flights from the airport. This will benefit not just the airport, but the entire Mahoning Valley economy. Businesspeople will not have to worry about long, and in the winter dangerous, drives to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Akron-Canton just to catch a flight.

Let's hope we can get them to come!

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3valleyred(1094 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Hey censoredship. You were entirely wrong on Allegiant Air. People like yourself said it had no chance of surviving here and it was an airline that was not reputable. Well four years later, Allegiant is as strong as ever and Allegiant Air is the most profitable low cost carrier in America and it has received numerous awards!

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4YNGAirSupporter(16 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Censor,

An airline with new flights at any airport, including the big airports, asks for financial support from the community and businesses, just as any new business coming into an new area would.

The fact is an airline is spending their own money to conduct a study to see if YNG is viable, and they will see it is! They wouldn't do it unless it was a good thing for their business and they could make money.

Since TWO or THREE airlines are conducting feasibility studies, shows there is a viable business model.

The need and most notably the desire from those around the region to fly in and out of YNG is there and the airlines agree. It didn't happen eons ago, it is happening now!

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5Tigerlily(476 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I would be happy if my taxes went towards making the Youngstown Airport more viable as an option for me to fly out of. I sometimes decide against flying simply because I don't want to have to drive to Cleveland, Akron, or Pittsburgh. It's a hassle. If I were able to drive twenty minutes to our airport and catch a flight to DC, or NYC, or Florida, etc, I would probably do so more often. And if my taxes help make that possible, then they will have been well spent taxes, in my opinion.

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6YNGAirSupporter(16 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Censor,

I appreciate your concerns. The study outcome will be in our favor. The airport in recent years has conducted studies and surveys and the matter at hand – air service – has been at the top of every business survey taken. Air travel is a business recruitment issue; it is a convention marketing issue; it is a business retention issue; it is even a community self-image issue. If any flag can rally the business community, it ought to be air service.

Back in May, Colgan Air traffic increased 8.5 percent. December 9th, Delta Connections traffic increased a blistering 18.4 percent in November and United is at 8.4 percent, all having year after year gains.

With this and Allegiant's success (increase of 12.2 percent), I believe for marketing, the 1 million is worth it (the $287,500 is raised by local fundraising). Look at it this way, Akron Canton's marketing budget is 3.3 million, above and beyond what is raised by local funds in that area. We are just beginning!

V&M Star, the Youngstown Business Incubator, GM Lordstown and several other successes in the region make supporting the airport even that much more great!

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