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Airport officials seeking financial support for United flights



Published: Sat, March 29, 2014 @ 12:10 a.m.

Cities, counties asked to contribute to effort to get daily service

By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

VIENNA

Officials with Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport have begun to talk to local government bodies to solicit additional money they believe will be necessary to attract daily air service here.

Dan Dickten, director of aviation, said leaders from Warren, Youngstown, Sharon, and Trumbull and Mahoning counties have been approached about providing a share of the approximately $450,000 more that will be needed.

Warren City Council has scheduled a committee meeting for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the possibility of contributing $30,000 or more as its share.

The Western Reserve Port Authority, which runs the airport, last week authorized contributing $420,000 as matching money for a $780,000 federal grant to provide United Airlines with a revenue guarantee. It would be used to guarantee the airline a profit during the initial months of operation.

But United has said having more than $1.2 million would be beneficial. An additional $450,000 would raise the total to more than $1.6 million, but Dickten is awaiting a more-concrete number from United.

He estimates $450,000 more might be enough based on the $2 million revenue guarantee the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority in Kansas has made available to United to start flights Jan. 7 between its Topeka Regional Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

The distance between Topeka and Chicago is 83 percent of the distance between the Vienna Township airport and Chicago, so the amount of revenue guarantee might be about 83 percent of the Topeka guarantee, Dickten said.

Warren Councilwoman Helen Rucker said she, for one, is in favor of providing Warren’s share of the guarantee because of the potential economic development and flying convenience of having two daily flights to and from Chicago.

“I’m excited about the project and ask Warren council to take the lead to donate $30,000,” Rucker said.

“I think it can happen, and it would be a significant benefit to Warren,” she said, adding that the expectation is that flights from the local airport would be similar in cost to those from Cleveland and Pittsburgh but with less driving and greater convenience.

Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally said Dickten sent him an email seeking the city’s participation in the guarantee, and he expects a meeting in the next few weeks to discuss the details with city council.

Dickten didn’t ask for a specific amount of money from the city, McNally said.

“I’m very interested in trying to help United Airlines come here,” McNally said. “But with council, I want to see what the guarantee is. We’re not making any promises at this point.”

Dan Polivka, a Trumbull County commissioner, said airport officials have approached the three Trumbull commissioners, “and everyone’s real supportive of the idea,” but it’s too early to say what Trumbull County’s participation might be.

Polivka said a flight to Chicago would be beneficial for business and vacation reasons, noting that Chicago is “a nice place to visit.”

Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said commissioners received a presentation Friday from YNGAir Partners, a nonprofit group supporting the airport, and will discuss the idea of contributing next week, but it would be difficult for Mahoning County to contribute because of its budgetary constraints.

“We’re always in support of expanding flights,” Traficanti said, adding there are a number of alternatives to pursue to raise the money, such as seeking matching federal funds.

Topeka began its service to Chicago in the midst of some of the worst winter weather in years, which is one reason flights during January were only about 25 percent full, but usage picked up this month with spring-break fliers, the Topeka, Kansas, Capital-Journal newspaper reported March 13.

Topeka is the capital city of Kansas with a population of about 128,000.

Topeka-O’Hare flights are one of three new routes United announced last fall, with similar services starting for State College, Pa., on Jan. 7 and for Elmira, N.Y., on Feb. 13. Topeka is similar to the Youngstown-Warren area in that it had no daily air service before United’s startup.

Meanwhile, Youngstown-Warren airport officials have received about 700 responses so far to a survey it is conducting on United’s behalf to gauge interest from local companies to using a Vienna-to-Chicago service, Dickten said. One Sharon-area steel company reported its workers made 574 flights in 2013 to Chicago, Dickten noted.

“The information coming across is strong. It should prove our demand,” Dickten said.


Comments

1plwise(8 comments)posted 9 months ago

Heard this all before. Businesses will say they will use the airport, but in the end they will go to CLE or PIT because it's cheaper and saves time.

Save your money, you're beating a dead horse.

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2ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 9 months ago

This is foolish! Use our tax money to provide the services that we need, not an airport that only a few will use. An airport here within driving distance of three major airports is a bad idea. Its not that far to PIT or CLE and there is a larger selection of flights to choose from.

Mayor McNally would be better served by saying no and putting all of the city's limited resources toward providing the services we need. Maybe hire another police officer, or pave a street. Both would be a better value to the citizens than a redundant airport.

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3paulydel(1332 comments)posted 9 months ago

I think this an excellent opportunity for YMA and we need to support this cause. Once it starts it will bring more business to the area. YMA should also have a cargo port which would also bring more air traffic. Those of you who are naysayers do not help to bring back prosperity to the Mahoning Valley which has been sorely needed for a long time now. If you can't support an opportunity for growth then leave the area and go where you think its better. Who need you?

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4thirtyninedollars(325 comments)posted 9 months ago

I agree why are we subsidizing corporations when they already get tax breaks.
Why don't they give subsidies to the people who live in the area?

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5fudputer(46 comments)posted 9 months ago

why in the hell subsidize United--they made 0ver 100 mil. last year in (ripoff) baggage fees--$25 to $50 or more a bag???? do the bags need seats???????????.if they want to use our airport let them pay like we do....

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6DontBanThisDrone(547 comments)posted 9 months ago

If I don't receive equal treatment, we WILL be suing.

(-:

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7southsidedave(4864 comments)posted 9 months ago

more money to help attract companies...are there really that many people in the Yo-Warren area that want to fly to Chicago twice each day?

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8AirportDirector(1 comment)posted 9 months ago

These are all great comments and questions. First, we have already received over 600 responses from businesses interested in using the United service at the local Airport. Second, Airlines do not start service at an Airport that lost daily service 10 years ago. They ALL require a revenue guarantee for their risk taking. It is not considered a subsidy. It merely keeps the operation at a 5% profit margin during the start-up. When the service reaches a 72% load factor, the service is considered sustained, and the revenue guarantee stops. This service has been forecasted to sustain itself within 3 - 6 months. The airline knows this and would also not consider service at an Airport / Community unless they are sure the demand is there and believe the service will sustain itself. Third, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport has proved its ability to operate air service. In 2006 Allegiant started with flights to Orlando and now we are up to four destination with the addition of Myrtle Beach, St. Petersburg, and Fort Meyers. In 2013 over 100,000 passengers passed through the YNG terminal. With the current schedule, not including United, we are expecting over 125,000 passengers. Fourth, the reason people will not drive to CLE or PIT if United comes to YNG is because United has pledged to keep the YNG fares at the same as can be purchased at CLE and PIT. They will save time and money by not having to drive to these other airports and will save even more with the $6.00 per day parking vs $12 - $15 at the other airports. Additionally, since neither PIT or CLE are hub airports, there is no advantage to flying from CLE or PIT. You are going to get a connecting flight in most cases to your final destination unless you are flying to Chicago for business or otherwise. I hope this helps.

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976Ytown(1308 comments)posted 9 months ago

AirportDirector:
1. 600 local business interested in local service. That's impressive.
2. Why did they lose daily service 10 years ago?
3. "keeps the operation at a 5% profit margin during the start-up. When the service reaches a 72% load factor, the service is considered sustained, and the revenue guarantee stops." Please explain load factor in relation to profit margin.
4. For what period of time has United pledged to keep the YNG fares the same as CLE and PIT?

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10thirtyninedollars(325 comments)posted 9 months ago

interest does not = revenue.
My business is interested but that doesn't mean I'll ever use it.
Wow wouldn't it be nice if every private citizen in the county was guaranteed a 5% profit margin?
Why wouldn't United lower their fares? Less travel for them if you are going on a connecting flight? If I can drive to cleveland and pay the same or in the same area. Why wouldn't I go to a more full service airport for the same costs?

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11YtownFan4Life(1 comment)posted 9 months ago

I'm all for this to happen. It will be much more convenient for the residents of Ytown AND (more importantly) it will mean more jobs!

We missed the boat when the levy failed a few years ago to get a cargo operation out of YNG, why would we want to shoot ourselves in the foot again?

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