By Ed Runyan
On the day the Cafaro Foundation pledged $100,000 to help secure daily air service at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, a Warren City Council committee heard a presentation regarding a $30,000 contribution.
The Cafaro Foundation, created by the Cafaro family, announced Tuesday it will provide $100,000 as part of an effort by airport officials to raise an additional $450,000 officials believe is needed to provide United Airlines with a revenue guarantee.
“For any local economy to flourish, a rapid transportation link to the rest of the world is a vital necessity,” the foundation said in a press release.
“We hope that this $100,000 gift from our family and our charitable foundation will serve as a catalyst for other contributions,” said William A. Cafaro, co-president of the Cafaro Corp., which owns the Eastwood Mall Complex in Niles and is one of America’s largest privately held real-estate development firms.
“The many companies in our area collectively spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in airfare annually. The need is there. Why not make the service more convenient than having to drive to flights originating in Cleveland, Akron or Pittsburgh?” Cafaro said.
The $450,000 will be added to $1.2 million already available.
A revenue guarantee is money that would be used by United during the startup phase of a new route to ensure the company profitability until the route can sustain itself.
Airport officials predict that startup period could last about six months and use up about $1 million.
United and airport officials are discussing the possibility of twice-daily flights on jet aircraft that hold about 50 or fewer people. The flights would travel between the local airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, where customers could connect to destinations around the world.
Much of Tuesday’s presentation by Dan Dickten, director of aviation at airport in Vienna, and two members of an airport support group called YNGAir Partners was devoted to explaining why daily service this time would be more successful than when it was offered at the local airport in the 1990s.
YNGAir Partners member Gary Wakeford, national sales manager for the Hygenic Corp. of Akron, told council members he has spent 70 percent of his work time flying around the United States for several decades.
He didn’t use the local airport in the 1990s because flights were from Vienna to Pittsburgh or Cleveland, then to the final destination.
He said that didn’t make sense because he could get a direct flight from Cleveland or Pittsburgh.
But now, he has to stop at another airport 80 percent of the time anyway, so stopping in Chicago on his way elsewhere wouldn’t be much different from now, he said. “This makes sense,” he said of using United out of Youngstown-Warren.
Dickten said United has indicated it will charge the same fare for flights from Youngstown-Warren as it does from Pittsburgh or Cleveland.
Council member Helen Rucker is chairwoman of council’s economic-development committee and said she plans to propose a $30,000 contribution at council’s next meeting.