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Daily flights from Youngstown to Cleveland taxi toward 2012 reality



Published: Thu, December 22, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

VIENNA

Negotiations are finally moving in the direction of restoring daily air service to the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, the airport’s director reported Wednesday.

The Western Reserve Port Authority, which runs the airport, authorized Dan Dickten, director of aviation, to continue negotiations with Gulfstream International of Fort Lauderdale.

The airline could start up flights between the local airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport as early as the first three months of 2012, Dickten said.

He said he hopes to have a contract for the board to discuss at the port authority’s meeting in January.

Dickten said he expects fares would be “reasonable” in price but didn’t know exact amounts. From Cleveland, travelers could connect with 60 destinations across the United States and Canada.

Airport officials have tried for years to restore daily service to the airport. When Dickten was hired in March 2010, he made it a priority to provide a service that would bring business travelers back to the local airport. The last time the airport offered daily service was 2003.

Gulfstream operates more than 100 scheduled flights daily to and from airports in Florida, the Bahamas, Montana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Among the airports in the region offering Gulfstream flights are Franklin, DuBois and Bradford, Pa.; Jamestown, N.Y.; and Parkersburg, W.Va, according to the Gulfstream website.

The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport would provide Gulfstream with a revenue guarantee to start up the service. Two-thirds of the guarantee would come from a $575,000 U.S. Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Program grant the airport received in October 2007.

The other third would have to be raised locally. Dickten said the organization YNGAir Partners has pledged to help the airport raise the matching money.

If the service were self-supporting, none of the revenue guarantee money would be touched, Dickten noted.

In the beginning, Gulfstream International would offer two round-trip flights here Monday through Friday, one Saturday and one Sunday.

For that level of service, the airline would need a revenue guarantee of $300,000 — $200,000 of which would come from the federal grant.

Airport officials were granted a one-year extension of the grant earlier this year and hope to receive another extension in the coming weeks.

The airport has spent some of the $575,000 grant on consulting fees but still has $513,705, Dickten said.

The Gulfstream fleet is comprised of 21 Beechcraft 1900D aircraft with a maximum seating capacity of 19 passengers, each powered by fuel-efficient jet-turbine engines.

Gulfstream operates under agreements with Continental Airlines, United Airlines and Copa Airlines. Gulfstream earlier this month changed its name to Silver Airways Corp.

Gulfstream International Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in November 2010, primarily served Florida and the Bahamas beginning in 1988.

An investment firm acquired some of Gulfstream’s assets just after the bankruptcy and launched an entirely new corporate entity known as VPAA Co., doing business as Gulfstream International Airlines, in May 2011.


Comments

1truth101(20 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Happy days are (almost) here again! 12 flights a week to/from Youngstown and Cleveland! Before we get too excited, let's ask a few questions.

Since we potentially have to pay the airline to provide this service, how realistic are the expectations? With 19 seat planes, it will take 456 passengers per week or 1,824 per month to fill the flights. Even at two-thirds full that's 304 and 1,215 respectively. Is that realistic? Are flights from the other regional airports mentioned as served by this airline filling this many seats? If "reasonable" ticket prices are too high or there are long waits for connecting flights, how many empty seats will result? The answers will tell us how much this gamble will cost us.

How stabreliable is this airline? We are betting a lot on them. Who will the contract be with? Who is the airline today? Is it Gulfstream International who went bankrupt? Is it VPAA who bought it? Is it "dba Gulfstream"? Or is it Silver Airways? Hard to tell!

If we are not careful our community will be paying $300,000.00+ just to say we have daily airline service for a market that does not have that much demand for short shuttles.

Let's hope this works and becomes a pipeline for progress – not another failed pipe dream.

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2valleyred(1097 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Truth, I will be happy to answer your questions on this service.

In regards to the number of individuals/flight. In 1995, Continental ran this route from March - November before pulling the plug due to some "operational" issues at YNG.

Your numbers are off when it comes to number of seats per month. 19 seats x 2 flights day = 38 per weekday. 38 x 5 = 190 + 38 on weekend = 228 seats per week. 228 x 4 weeks = 912 passengers/month, otherwise known as enplanements. Enplanements are what the airlines will look at to see if this route "works" for YNG. The deplanements, passengers coming into YNG, would be individuals connecting from 60+ cities into YNG and should be in the same ballpark range.

In 1995 when this route operated, seats sold ranged from 715-778, or 72%-79% passenger loads. If we saw those numbers in 2012, it would be profitable.

Gulfstream is a codeshare partner of United. This is not some fly-by-night operation that nobody has ever heard of. This is a reputable carrier that flies hundreds of routes each day for United/Continental. Silver Airways is the new name for the "new" Gulfstream which emerged from bankruptcy.

YNGAir Partners, the airport's community support group, will work our tails off to make sure this route is successful. Local travelers have told us that they want daily service and this is a start! Would we rather see service to DC or Chicago, absolutely. However if we make this succeed, we feel that we could see that service down the road in the not too distant future. That is our feeling, not a promise.

If you have any other questions, I'd be happy to answer!

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Why ride these puddle jumpers? With other airports within a hour drive of Youngstown like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Akron? Once again the Port Authority shows us how to waste taxpayer money.

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4truth101(20 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

valeyred, I stand corrected on my numbers. I mistakenly thought that both legs of round trip service counted (emplanements and deplanements).

I still would ask if the other regional airports mentioned are delivering the same level of emplacements we are needing since their service is already established. What's the answer?

Is it reasonable to expect or accurate to project 2012 results from 16 year-old data? Most business planners would say no!

I didn't say Gulfstream/VPAA/Gulfstream/Silver was fly by night. They simply have an unstable financial/operational record. I have knowledge/experience with them and their history of poorly planned, short-term ventures that fail.

Like I said, I hope is works and that the calculations are not "fluffed." A failure like that is not needed.

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5valleyred(1097 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

UnionForever, people were saying that about Allegiant coming to town. Well the YNG Facebook reported this yesterday:

"In November, a total of 6,092 passengers enplaned/deplaned at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. Through November, a total of 64,471 passengers have flown into and out of YNG, the highest mark since 1999! Thank You and remember to FlyYNG!"

Allegiant has proven successful and like I said, we will strive to make this work as well.

Truth, the oil and gas exploration companies are flooding other airports with activity with the Marcellus and Utica Shale. Elmira, Wilkes-Barre, and Williamsport have seen additional service due to the Shale and this will help with travel for those companies as well.

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6AnotherAverageCitizen(1175 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Great news for YNG airport. Good job Dan Dickton and YNGairpartners. Hopefully this flight to Cle will be productive. If it is I can foresee additional flights hopefully to Chicago or Atlanta.

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7southsidedave(4780 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

If this creates permanent jobs, I'm in favor of it.

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8valleyperson(7 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Unless you pay to stay in a hotel then you will not be paying for anything at the airport. The airport uses bed taxes from hotels. In order to succeed and see more destinations then we need to support this and make it work. Dan has done a GREAT job getting this airport back to where it needs to be and we need to back him now. I think that service will be great! Lets face it Akron Canton was in the same boat as YNG until airtran. Just like they started with airtran YNG started with allegiant. Everything needs to start somewhere and thats exactly what YNG did and they are coming along just perfectly!

GOOD JOB DAN!!!

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9Superman(31 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The Drone has it right. Why would anyone drive to the Y-town airport, (20 minutes minimum) Park, go through security, board the plane, taxi the runway, and then fly 10 minutes to Cleveland? When they could drive an hour to Cleveland (or Akron, Pittsburgh) and not have to connect and actually spend less time overall! Sounds like another taxpayer funded scam for Gulfstream to rake a cool half a million or more for a few months of service and then an exit. Close that black hole finally.

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10Veleuk(18 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

"Why would anyone drive to the Y-town airport, (20 minutes minimum) Park, go through security, board the plane, taxi the runway, and then fly 10 minutes to Cleveland? "

Ding ding ding! We have a waste of money!

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11nitro001(1 comment)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

"Why would anyone drive to the Y-town airport, (20 minutes minimum) Park, go through security, board the plane, taxi the runway, and then fly 10 minutes to Cleveland? "
I would! Besides the fact, I live 5 minutes from the airport, even 20 minutes is a nice drive.
I make this drive every week as I am a consultant flying to DC, Virginia, California, etc.. I drive to Pittsburgh or Cleveland for a Monday morning flight. For an 8 AM flight, I have to get up at 4 - 4:30 AM! Hour to hour 15 minute drive to either airport. At that time, the security checkpoints are RIDICULOUS! 45 minutes at the alternate line in Pittsburgh, 2 hours in standard line! Cleveland, I got through in 30 minutes once. Add that onto the 45 minutes early you have to be before flight and you see how long it takes! 1.25 drive + 45 security + 45 early:
Just shy of 3 hours.
Now go to Youngstown! Take your 20 minute drive, tack on, say 15-20 minutes or less for security (at most 30 people going through for 1 flight), plus 45 minutes early for flight. You are now at approx. 1.5 hours. 1/2 the time. Add in your 10 minute flight time, you are through security at Cleveland and saved yourself almost 2 hours. So much easier to get in and out of security and deal with TSA!

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