January 31, 2007
Here is part of a story from the Daily Report:
Within the next week, ExpressJet Holdings Inc., a regional airline once wholly owned by Continental Airlines Inc., is expected to launch a new carrier under its own name that will focus on point-to-point service — direct flights without herding planes and passengers through hub airports — using 50-seat jets. ExpressJet will go to 24 cities and fly only where there isn't currently any nonstop service — routes like San Diego to Omaha, Austin to Albuquerque, Sacramento to Tucson, Kansas City to Raleigh and New Orleans to Jacksonville.
Ontario, Calif., near Los Angeles, will be the new airline's busiest city, with nonstop flights to 14 cities. Officials say exact schedules will be loaded in computer-reservation systems later this week. Flights will actually begin in April, with the full route network rolled out roughly west to east by May before the start of the summer travel season.
ExpressJet is pursuing a Goldilocks strategy — it wants markets that are not too small to leave planes empty, not too big to attract nonstop competition, but just right for a couple of flights a day with its small jets.
It hopes to connect dots that Southwest Airlines Co. and other major airlines can't afford to serve directly, thus making it easier for business travelers and leisure passengers to reach second-tier cities without the hassle and time of a connection at a hub. "Seat availability has become harder and harder for many communities," says James B. Ream, chief executive of ExpressJet.
January 30, 2007
- Rename the airport to Boston-Worcester to approve its appeal as alternative to Boston. This has worked very well for Baltimore Washington and Orlando Sanford International Airport.
- Improve access to and from Route 290 including reverse signage. We need to pick one route as the preffered route versus attempting to direct prospective passengers from every single exit off Route 290.
- Contact, pursue and invite leisure airline who target secondary cities and provide discount prices to popular leisure destinations (note targeted airlines below).
- Replace studies with action. Prospective airlines do their own research before entering a market so why waste monies on consultants when we could utilize these same dollars to help advertise airlines who enter this market?
- Open lines of communication among involved parties with monthly reports from the Airport Director to the City Council pertaining to the budget and prospective airlines.
- Explore possibility if naming rights for the terminal or airport itself.
- Generate positive press for the airport. Correct misconceptions about not being able to landing in bad weather and highlight the high level of general aviation activity.
- Explore new revenue sources including but not limited to the available restaurant slot and lands remaining idle in the Airport Industrial Park.
- Revise and update the official web page.
- Start a bumper sticker campaign to generate civic pride and support of the airport. A small oval with the letters ORH?
- Improve business traveler services specifically FREE WIFI and FREE PARKING!!!
- Recruited airlines need to offered a package that waives fixed overhead expenses and allocated a portion of the $455,000 Small Community Air Service Development Grant from the FAA to their advertising needs.
- Invite airport management companies to Worcester and review the possibility of putting together an RFP whereby we lease the entire airport to a private management company.
- The PILOT program for non-profits is extremely controversial. We may look into the possibility of asking local non-profits to contribute to a fund that would help attract a daily business flight which would benefit the entire community.
- Seek help from the State and Federal Government to upgrade landing system from Category 1 to Category 3 which would enable airplanes to land in heavy fog.
13) There was a fiduciary responsibility for the management at ORH to get the highest possible return on our airport for the tax-payers.
January 29, 2007
January 28, 2007
Who was to blame for the decline of ORH, the city councilors of course??? I never realized that the City Councilors had so much power. Evidently the city councilors "badmouthing" and "shoe string budgets" were to much for ORH to overcome. Before I go on, "shoe string budgets"?? What do you call the $8 million worth of technological improvements or a $16 million state of the art terminal? Has Mr Nemeth looked at our "shoe string budget" lately?? If the T & G rescued ORH with their MassPort suggestion in 1994, why did it take 6 years to sign the first operating agreement. Again it was the "city leaders" who "dragged their feet."
Although Mr Nemeth clearly remembers 15 editorials in 1999 alone in favor of MassPort, he has forgotten to mention the numerous editorials the past two years telling us the surveys and consultants were doing a great job and providing a clear path for success. Now we find out the "surveys and costly consultants" are putting us on a "slow journey to nowhere." Again who voted for the surveys and costly consultants??
Why has MassPort then not been able to help ORH? 9/11 is to blame. We all know 9/11 changed alot of things, but why has other airports like Rockford, who also had no commercial service after 9/11, been able to flourish while ORH continues to fail miserably? It was Craig Coy's fault.
This attempt at revisionist history is truly laughable. The people running the airport have simply done a horrible job. Mr Nemeth can try to blame the City Council, the city leaders, 9/11, Craig Coy or how about the people of Worcester or this blog, but the blame lies at the feet of people, like Mr Nemeth, who have been in control of ORH.
Now I read the operating deficit is estimated at $3 million for this fiscal year?? Where the hell does he come up with that? I just got the 6 month numbers from the City Auditor and it was under $1?
How much will MassPort pay, if they take title to ORH? Not mentioned. Maybe if Mr Nemeth had decided years ago to put together an RFP looking for an airport management company or private company to take over ORH, versus voting for surveys and consultants, we would be talking about which company to pick on July 1st. Instead we have only one option, MassPort, and we have absolutely no leverage. That would have been a "no-brainer".
Lastly, I agree with one thing Mr Nemeth said whole-heartedly. We should turn the airport over to the professionals and let them do the job right.
January 27, 2007
- The old control tower is deplorable
- The old hangar building has no bathrooms, smells and has little or no heat
- The building that house Amity is not much better
- Also heard the roof to the new terminal leaks badly
January 26, 2007
Allegiant Travel (ALGT - commentary - Cramer's Take): "Given away. An IPO that was given away," Cramer said of the carrier that came public "in the middle of the greated decline in oil in almost five years. It has been a rocket, almost a double, and it may not be done going up yet."
ROCKFORD -- We all like to save money and that's exactly what this next announcement is going to help some of us do. Thanks to the Chicago Rockford International Airport watching every nickel and dime, property owners will be able to keep more of that spare change in their pockets.
Administrators didn't expect to be debt free this soon. But now that RFD paid down its debt, we will see the part of our property tax that goes to the airport drop by 62%. It doesn't happen very often, but the airport is actually going give us money. RFD Executive Director Bob O'Brien says, "They're not going to retain that money and carry it over. They are gonna give it back to the rightful owner, the taxpayer."
Three years ago we were asked to chip in more than just taxes. The airport started a campaign to raise $250,000. O'Brien says being debt free just proves they meant what they said. "We want to move towards financial independence where users pay for the facility. In the long run this could bring economic wealth to the community."
That contribution to the community is a goal of the airports. The Chicago Rockford International Airport pumps in about $719,000 to the community. That's the 2nd largest in the state next to O'Hare. The goal is to have a $1 million economic impact.
With discussions in progress regarding the fate of our little airport on the hill, we feel it is appropriate to mention the unmentionable: Maybe it’s high time that we simply let it go.
We are now in the final half-year of the city’s contract with Massport to manage the facility, which expires in June. A $2.3 million budget offset by a relatively paltry amount of revenue translates into a significant operating deficit, of which Massport has been absorbing a declining amount. The city manager is already engaged in negotiations regarding the future of the agreement.
Everyone is familiar with the story. We are blessed/saddled with a once-quaint little facility whose remoteness from anywhere outside the city limits handicaps its attractiveness to commercial carriers. While Massport can spin in principle the importance of maintaining a regional network of facilities in which Worcester can take its rightful place, that is of little comfort to a city due to shoulder the full deficit come June. Cocktail party conversations about a wind farm are provocative but fail to address the fact that there are still bonds to be paid off for past improvements there. It is destined to continue to be an airport — simply not a profitable one.
The latest of a series of studies — $400,000, this time — is apparently poised to contribute relatively little to what amounts to the same old conversation: Maybe there’s a little money in niche markets and this thing called “general aviation,” but there’s no ready cure-all to the commercial carrier dilemma. Our facility is destined to be only marginally attractive to airlines during the best of times; and the rest of the time it won’t be able to pull its own weight. This has simply been proven by the sheer, heroic and ongoing efforts to make a go of it.
January 25, 2007
January 24, 2007
State aid -398
Salaries 451,116 (more then total revenues by almost $90,000)
Debt Service 332,249
6 Month Loss (914,901)
ORH is losing on average 152,483 per month.
Since 100% of the debt service (332,249) is the City of Worcester, we would pay 33% on the balance (914,901-332,249) or $250,403. In other words of the total 914,901 of debt incurred the first 6 months of this fiscal year, ORH cost Worcester 582,652 and MassPort 332,249.
VIENNA — Despite funding challenges, the Western Reserve Port Authority plans to proceed with plans to have private companies build hangars at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport to spur development.
The port authority, which runs the airport, tentatively approved advertising Wednesday for companies to submit proposals to build the hangars in two areas on the north side of the airport entrance near state Route 193.
The two areas are adjacent to the Cafaro Co. hangar on land that is already paved, said Steve Bowser, director of aviation at the airport. The cost to build the hangars there would be minimal compared to an area on the south side of the airport that officials had previously hoped to develop, said Duane Johnson, a consultant working on the project.
To build the hangars on the south side would require Federal Aviation Administration funding to build a road and aprons to serve the hangars, and the FAA wants to devote its funding to improvements to the fencing around the airport over the next two years, Bowser said.
Project moves along
Regarding the fencing, Johnson reported to port authority members that the project to replace 7-foot fencing with 10-foot fencing is about one-third complete. Another third will be done with $900,000 in FAA money in 2007, and the remainder will probably be done in 2008 with about $900,000 more in FAA money, Johnson said. The fencing is needed to keep out birds and other wildlife for the safety of aircraft, Bowser said.
To help improve Allegiant's numbers, Bowser said, the port authority is likely to approve $30,000 to $50,000 of port authority funding in the coming months to help market Allegiant.
Early last year when Allegiant first came to the airport, the port authority used a $250,000 Department of Transportation Small Community Air Services grant to market Allegiant through Rubenstein Associates of Liberty.
Port Authority member John Masternick, president and CEO of Windsor House Inc. of Girard, said he has instructed the marketing department of Windsor House to prepare some marketing assistance to the airport, because the airport does not have its own marketing department.
Windsor House offers an annual rewards program to employees, Masternick said, which involves trips. This year the trip will include an Allegiant flight to Orlando, Masternick said. It's an idea — having area businesses offer Allegiant flights as employee bonuses — that the port authority might be able to use, he said.
January 23, 2007
"They told us they are coming," said Deputy Transportation Commissioner Harry Stanton. "They haven't told us where they're going to fly to, but we expect to hear more about that on Monday."
With the low-cost airline obliged to begin service by March 5, JetBlue should soon begin selling seats from Westchester. Airport manager Peter Scherer has said JetBlue has told him the routes it was considering included Orlando, West Palm Beach and Chicago.
And we have a 1.6 BILLION unfunded pension liability.
"The bill to sell the lottery has not yet been heard, and they're already putting out, apparently, feelers for it," complained House Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend. "I just think that's jumping the law, if not the gun." Bauer, who then was in the minority, was an outspoken critic of last year's $3.8 billion private lease of the Indiana Toll Road, which was negotiated without prior approval from lawmakers.
Daniels did, however, make clear that his administration would issue a "request for qualifications" from potential lottery bidders when he announced his plan to attack brain drain in the state last month. The goal is to negotiate a multidecade lease that would attract an up-front payment of at least $1 billion to fund merit-based scholarships and research endowments for students.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich first proposed the concept last summer, billing a lottery lease as a potential windfall for K-12 education. New Jersey officials also have expressed interested in the idea. "We believe there's going to be a lot of interest," Daniels said. "We've been told to expect -- and I think Illinois has been told to expect and New Jersey's been told to expect -- a significant number of entities to express interest."
Indiana has hired the investment bank Morgan Stanley to evaluate the proposals it receives, though Daniels does not expect to get firm bids before the General Assembly adjourns in April. Legislation to authorize a Hoosier Lottery lease was introduced last week in the Republican-led Senate. But the proposal has received little public support from lawmakers of either party.
"I think the privatization of the lottery is not something that we need to do," said state Rep. Bob Kuzman, D-Crown Point. "We can raise that money, make the money and utilize that money here in the state of Indiana.
January 21, 2007
- Surveys and consultants will not save ORH.
- The initital IMG report that cost $100,000 (actually 99,750) came from the city. Since then 110,350 (54,640 31,850 and 24,860) has been spent from the DOT Grant on IMG to attract a commercial carrier. Now there is another amendment to pay IMG $70,000 more.
- Past Airport Commissioner and current Airport Board Member Robert Z Nemeth finds it "hard to sort out how the DOT money or the funds allocated for the consultants, is being spent."
- Past Airport Commissioner and current Airport Board Member Robert Z Nemeth realizes "1) few of the findings and recommendations offered by a string of reports over the years are new or surprising and 2) none of the outlined goals and needs for the future of could be met without MassPort's help.
- Mr Nemeth also points out that the current RFP that had a deadline this past Wednesday received no reponse???
- "ORH future pretty much depends on the outcome of the city's negotiations with MassPort and the extent and conditions of the authority's involvement.
What really kills me is that Mr Nemeth is not sure exactly how the $442,615 DOT grant has been spent? Maybe Mr Nemeth should file a request for a summary/break-down of how the monies have been spent to date for the next Airport Board Meeting. Not naming a Blue Ribbon Committee to disperse the DOT monies was a huge mistake.
Mr Nemeth then proceeds to tell MassPort again that our future rests in their hands during negotiations. Next time you are trying to sell your house to a prospective buyer tell them that your future financial well-being depends on their offer and that they are the only buyer. Do you think that they will low ball you?? Bottom line is that ORH is gone to MassPort either via a long-term lease or sale and Mr Nemeth now wants to distance himself from all the mistakes that he has been involved with at ORH. Not going to happen here.
There have been two huge mistakes the past two years. First, we never should have lost Allegiant and if need be the whole $452,000 DOT grant should have been spent on them. Don't forget they helped us keep primary airport status last year which meant $1,000,000 from the FAA. Losing them killed any chances of getting another commercial airlines and now we are in danger of not achieving 10,000 passengers this year or losing $1,000,000. Second, not negotiating with any other potential airport management or private company even though we only had a three year extension of the operating agreement. The day the current agreement was signed (July1st, 2004) is the day we should have started this search. Now we have less then 6 months and we only have one buyer (MassPort).
Putting that aside, I feel the current Airport Commission, however, must be conducting their business outside the scrutiny of the monthly official meeting, when less then a majority is present. How else can you explain the complete lack of any questions/information on any of these pertinent matters during the meetings??? Some may argue that certain information should in fact be done in secret, to protect the underlying negotiations. I can appreciate that and agree but that is why you have an Executive Session. When was the the last time an Airport Commission called for an Executive Session??
We are in a critical time the next 5 months on ORH and the decisions we make during that time may be with us for the next 20-30 years. I only wish that they Airport Commission would bring all the issues out on the table for all us to see.
January 20, 2007
- In January, 2005, when nobody was looking on the Airport Commission Board Minutes, they were 9 pages long. Now flash forward 23 months, when they are put on this web site (as well as the city web site), they are less then 2 pages.
- Although the airport is now losing over $2,000,000 per year, there is nothing on the financials in the monthly meeting.
- Although there is now 6 months left in the current operating agreement with MassPort, there is nothing on this.
- Lastly, there is nothing on how IMG is doing on the recruitment efforts for a commercial airline.
Evidently according to the official Airport Commision Minutes, none of the commissioners are concerned with the financial stability of ORH, the future operating agreement effective July 1st of this year or how IMG is doing(after we spent over $100,000 of the DOT grant monies on them) to help recruit a commercial carrier???
My favorite line, however, concerns "problems with the suspended/installation in Swissport Hangar 2 that required removal of that material that due to deterioration of the grid sytem holding it in place." I read something similar to that in a report on a housing inspection report, do you know what it meant??? In essence the runners for the drop ceiling were either rotting or the lag bolts that held the the runners were falliing out and the ceiling was falling done... Are we to assume that this entry in the Official Board Minutes means the ceiling is falling done in Hangar 2?? I do not know...
Per usual every time I read the monthly Airport Commission Minutes, I end up with more questions then answers--the complete opposite of what the Public Open Meeting Laws were intended to do..
January 19, 2007
By the end of the meeting, I was convinced that Congressman McGovern was going to make sure that this would not happen again. He mentioned amongst, some things I forgot, a call to the Senators Offices and the head of the DOT, Minerta. Sure enough we received $455,000.
To date this money simply has not been spent correctly and mainly spent on consultants, versus an airline. Let us not forget the job the Congressman did for ORH or the fact we need 10,000 passengers this year to keep primary airport status and $1,000,000.
January 18, 2007
A news release states the carrier's last day of scheduled service will be Feb. 6, 2007.
Customers with reservations Feb. 8 and beyond will be rebooked for a departure out of the carrier's closest service city, Greenville-Spartanburg. Customers will also have the option of a full refund.
"Unfortunately, due to lack of market demand, we will end our Tampa Bay service from Columbia," Maurice J. Gallagher, Allegiant Air president and CEO, said in a written release.
Allegiant Air began service from Columbia Metropolitan Airport Dec. 14, 2006.
January 17, 2007
Surprisingly I read the paper today and he will now be eligible. From the Telegram:
The city has long had a policy prohibiting city employees from serving on boards and commissions, and Mr. O’Brien said that was based on “legitimate concerns created by the conflict of interest law and the city charter.” A city employee could not serve on a board with jurisdiction over the employee’s department, such as the Zoning Board of Appeals has over the Division of Code Enforcement, the manager noted.
There will be times when a city employee would have to recuse himself from a board’s particular involvement in his department, he said. Mr. O’Brien said he will require clearance from either the city solicitor or the state Ethics Commission for a city employee, including a School Department employee, serving on an advisory board or commission.
He said he will not adopt a policy giving city employees an advantage over other applicants to boards and commissions. City employees would have to go through the usual process of the Citizens Advisory Council to be recommended for appointment, Mr. O’Brien said.
January 16, 2007
Let me also add, I hope that this is not the case.
At the same time analyzing terms of the RFP and the fact that the management in 5 months is unknown, it may have scares off alot of potential investors. I would not be surprised that we may had alot more interest, but everyone may have been afraid to pull the trigger.
Small airports around the country have thrown their names into Frontier Airlines' hat in the hope that the Denver-based airline will start flying to their communities. Monday was the deadline for airports to reply to Frontier's request for proposals. The airline sent the requests to about 65 communities throughout Colorado and within a radius of about 1,200 miles of Denver for flights on the airline's regional jets or turboprop planes that are on order. Frontier has received proposals from almost all of them.
The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport submitted its proposal last week, said Stay Aspen Snowmass president Bill Tomcich. "We put a lot of time and energy in this proposal, and I believe we had a very compelling case," Tomcich said. Steamboat is still in discussions with Frontier, said Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., with hope of flights starting in the winter of 2007-08. Steamboat is targeting the Q400 turboprop planes for year-round flights, with additional service during the busy winter season. "The primary scenario that we seem to have come to a verbal agreement on is daily service," Wirth said. Steamboat plans to use funding from the Local Marketing District and the business-backed Fly Steamboat Air Program and, if talks are successful, would eventually like to strike a marketing agreement with Frontier, he said.
Minot International Airport in North Dakota sent its proposal to Frontier last week, offering $251,000 in incentives. Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming submitted its proposal to Frontier earlier this month.
"Frontier carries a good reputation," said Jackson Hole Airport director Ray Bishop. But due to the seasonal fluctuation of tourist traffic, he said Jackson Hole's chances may be "moderate at best." Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport submitted its proposal to Frontier for service with regional jets.
Greenville-Spartanburg, like some other airports, is conducting a study of the market but isn't offering incentives to Frontier.
The proposals have come in as Frontier starts up a subsidiary to fly 74-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprop planes. It is also expanding its regional jet fleet. Frontier expects to announce new routes with its Q400s starting in May.
January 15, 2007
Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Now that we're all comfortable selling the streets, how about getting rid of the airports? That looks like the next question the nation's states, municipalities and public-policy makers will have to consider, with the inevitable billions of dollars at stake. There's too much money chasing too few deals, just like they say about the hedge-fund business, and that's good news for municipalities and taxpayers. The bad news is that the federal government's involvement in U.S. airports complicates things considerably.
Pennsylvania turned heads last month when it said it received 48 expressions of interest in its 537-mile (864- kilometer) turnpike from a variety of firms. They included Wall Street banks such as Bear Stearns Cos., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., as well as the more usual suspects like Australia's Macquarie Infrastructure Group. It turns out that investors are desperate to put their money into U.S. infrastructure. Who knew?
``As much as $100 billion is waiting to be invested in public assets that produce their own revenue stream from tolls or fees,'' says Governing magazine in its current issue, nicely summing up the situation in an article titled ``Unloading Assets.''
Pros and Cons
There have been three major transactions so far where private operators have leased U.S. toll roads: the Chicago Skyway, the Indiana Toll Road and the Pocahontas Parkway in Virginia. Now the people who favor such things are wondering how long it will be before the cry goes up: Sell the airports!
It turns out that a lot of people are thinking the same thing, and have been for a while. When I typed ``U.S. airport privatization'' into the Google search engine, there were 1,150,000 entries, even more than for ``U.S. toll road privatization'' (823,000 matches).
Proponents of privatization say that private companies can run toll roads and airports more efficiently and provide a better level of service than the public sector can. Certainly it is hard to imagine something more afield of a municipality's core competency than running an airport.
Opponents say that private companies have little incentive to invest in capital improvements after a deal is made. They also point out that such assets are, more often than not, monopolies, and they are unwilling to grant monopolies to private companies.
People are talking about airport privatization, yet they haven't done much about it, at least in the U.S.
And the one airport that has been leased to a private operator, Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, New York, may be repurchased by the public -- the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The authority has been talking for decades about the advisability of building a fourth major airport to relieve congestion. The Stewart lease was purchased by London- based National Express Group Plc in 2000 for $35 million.
The reason that airport privatization hasn't taken off in the U.S. as it has elsewhere in the world (notably in the U.K.) is spelled out in one of those reports you can look up on Google -- the General Accounting Office's paper, ``Airport Privatization: Issues Related to the Sale or Lease of U.S. Commercial Airports,'' which dates from November 1996.
The Federal Aviation Administration ``has generally discouraged the sale or lease of an entire airport to a private entity,'' the report said. ``FAA is concerned that in selling or leasing an airport, the legal obligations that the airport had made to obtain a federal grant may not be satisfied.''
The biggest obligation is a restriction on the use of airport revenue, the GAO report said. ``These restrictions are intended to ensure that revenue is not diverted from the airport for other uses and are interpreted by FAA as not permitting public owners of airports to retain the proceeds from selling or leasing their airports.'' Nor can this obligation be extinguished by repaying the federal grants.
The GAO report noted that the FAA said it will consider privatization proposals on a case-by-case basis.
Under an ``Airport Privatization Pilot Program'' begun in 1997, limited to five participants, the FAA has done just that. The Stewart application was approved in 2000. The agency is looking at a proposal by Chicago to sell its Midway Airport, and another to privatize the New Orleans Lakefront Airport.
We have an awful lot to talk about on the subject of airport privatization. Why don't the airlines like it? Can private holders finance capital investments as easily and cheaply as municipalities can in the tax-exempt market? Will privatization enhance competition, or stifle it? Let's start with those.
January 14, 2007
January 13, 2007
here is part of the story
January 12, 2007
Stewart Airport — For the second time in a month, there were balloons in the terminal.
For the second time in a month, there was coffee and Danish for all.
For the second time in a month, there was a radio station and photographers and a big crowd on hand.
And, for the second time in a month, a big-name airline has come to Stewart International Airport. Yesterday, it was AirTran Airways, the follow-up to JetBlue in the 1-2 combo of major discount carriers that Stewart believes will bring credibility, lower fares and loads more traffic to the long-struggling airport.
They're coming in with five daily flights, two to Atlanta and one each to Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa, Fla. And if those flights do well, they'll add more, said John Kirby, AirTran's director of strategic planning.
January 12, 2007
- downgrade to GA airport and cover the operating deficit ourselves (guessing $1,000,000/yr)
- continue current operating agreement keeping ORH as a commercial airport (guessing MassPort would only continue at the 67% level (that would still cost the City of Worcester approximately $1,000,000 per tear).
- long-term lease or sell ORH to MassPort (out of pocket costs would be zero)
January 11, 2007
Eclipse Repair Center Underway at Albany Airport
The Times Union
COLONIE, N.Y. - The new Eclipse Aviation factory service center at Albany International Airport is taking shape, with structural steel and roof trusses bolted into place as the $8 million project moves toward completion by summer.
The service center is one of at least seven nationwide that will provide maintenance and repair for the Eclipse 500, a very light jet that will carry up to six people and costs about $1.52 million. Eclipse also will operate centers in Gainesville, Fla.; Van Nuys, Calif.; and at its headquarters in Albuquerque, N.M. Other sites haven't yet been identified.
Eclipse has 2,500 orders for the new jet, from air-taxi companies, businesses and individuals. It delivered its first plane at the end of December and has 39 aircraft in various stages of comple tion, said Mike McConnell, vice president of marketing and sales.
Airport spokesman Doug Myers said construction workers plan to enclose the Albany service center so they can work on the interior during the colder weather. The Albany County Airport Authority is financing construction, and Eclipse will lease the building and apron space over 10 years with two five-year options. Over the 20-year period, Eclipse would pay the Airport Authority $11.9 million.
The new center received $1.6 million in state money.
Eclipse plans to employ 30 people.
It also may attract air-taxi services. The chief executive of Linear Air, a Lexington, Mass.-based company that has ordered or taken options on 30 of the small jets, said last year that offering service in Albany might be feasible, "since we anticipate having our aircraft in Albany on a regular basis."
The smaller jets will likely be popular with business travelers, who can avoid hub airports and fly to smaller airfields closer to their destination. They'll also avoid traditional security checkpoints.
Officials at Albany International Airport also would like Eclipse to have a sales operation here, and for owners to base their aircraft here. They support state legislation to exempt general aviation aircraft from sales tax. While the measure last year gained state Senate approval, it failed to pass in the Assembly. The measure was just reintroduced in the Senate, said Brian Shaughnessy, communications director of the New York Aviation Management Association in Albany. "This really can be a good business driver," he said. "We've seen it in other states."
Now, many purchasers are basing their planes in Massachu setts or Connecticut, two neighboring states with sales tax breaks for general aviation aircraft.
"People don't appreciate that it's very easy to get around in an aircraft," Shaughnessy said.
January 10, 2007
Lined Up to Punt
One year into his retirement, Doug Flutie wonders if being a TV analyst is worth all the hassle.
By Casey Sherman
During his quarter century in football, Doug Flutie was a scampering bundle of positivity who repeatedly lifted our dreary Bostonian spirits, from that famous Hail Mary to his encore drop-kick field goal. But since calling it quits last spring, he’s had a sometimes rocky adjustment to retirement. For one thing, the usual sports-icon second act—breaking down games as a TV analyst—has proven to be a lot more than he bargained for.
“I’ve traveled way too much for what I wanted to get out of this job,” he groans about his new gig covering college football for ABC-ESPN. “That’s gotta change next year or I won’t be doing it.”
Standing in the kitchen of his Natick manse during one of the rare times he’s been home in months, Flutie shows the signs of a road dog’s life. The crow’s feet and the sporadic gray hairs hint at his 44 years. During the regular season, he was on the road six days a week, spending Fridays and Saturdays in New York for production meetings and in-studio broadcasts. He’d drive home early Sunday morning, then fly out that night to prepare for the midweek games. Now, with college football’s bowl season upon us, Flutie needs only survive another week or so of an experience he really didn’t enjoy from Day 1.
“It was new to me,” he explains. “It was work. I didn’t feel like doing it. When I’m getting ready for a football season, I go for a run. I’m motivated to do that. This? The mental preparation feels like a classroom to me.”
The former Heisman Trophy winner is fixed in our minds as an overjoyed kid leaping on a field in Miami in 1984. He does not naturally fit the role of the terse, opinionated pundit that TV execs like. On-air, he often seems uneasy and tentative, and he finds himself leery of lobbing armchair criticism at players and coaches. “Craig James, he has no problem saying a coach should be fired,” Flutie says, referring to one of his on-air colleagues. “I’ll buffer it. I’ll say, ‘They’re struggling right now.’ Because I know how hard the guys are working.”
But as the season wore on, Flutie did get more pointed in his comments. In November he dismissed the notion that the Texas Longhorns would lose to Kansas State. After KSU pulled off a major upset, an irate Longhorns fan sent two hate-filled e-mails to Flutie’s autism foundation, calling him a “jinx.” The threatening e-mails were traced to a man in California, who later sent an apologetic letter to Flutie; no charges were filed.
After two decades slogging around the pro football circuit and being chased by jacked-up linebackers, Flutie doesn’t need strife like that anymore. He had hoped retirement would allow him to spend more time with his wife, Laurie; his 18-year-old daughter, Alexa; and his autistic son, Dougie. “I miss him and I miss Lex,” he admits. “Today I came home and walked into Dougie’s room, and his face lit up.” The Fluties have raised more than $8 million for autism research through the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation. Still, caring for Dougie, now 14, is a full-time challenge. “He’s got athleticism,” Flutie says. “He’s got the ability to take off and run. But he’s a hundred times better than he was three years ago.”
Whether Flutie continues as a TV analyst or not, he plans to stay involved with football. He keeps in touch with old teammates, and exchanges text messages with Tom Brady almost daily. He sees himself back on the field someday, coaching a high school team—which is probably how most of us picture him anyway. Until then, he makes do with rec league basketball games and playing on a flag football team with his nephew Billy, a freshman at Boston College. “I’m just playing defense,” Flutie says, chuckling. “But I’m terrible at grabbing the flag. I miss more tackles than anyone else on the field.”
Originally published in Boston Magazine, January 2007.
January 09, 2007
Air passenger numbers: The sky’s the limit
Airport hopes to hit 250,000 mark this year.
By Thomas V. Bona
ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR
Click here for more information about Thomas V. Bona
ROCKFORD — The loss of Northwest Airlines, stricter security rules and blizzards in Denver couldn’t keep Chicago/Rockford International Airport from its fourth-straight year of increased passenger traffic.
And with five routes going at once — and others being targeted — airport officials hope to see a quarter-million passengers this year.
“I believe that with what we have in the hopper and the projects that we’re talking about and the airlines we’re talking to, that’s a very realistic goal for us,” said Mike Dunn, chairman of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority board of directo
January 08, 2007
In what would be an unprecedented power grab, Governor Deval Patrick is looking to take control of the state's sprawling quasi-public agencies and authorities, including the Massachusetts Port Authority and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.
Patrick, appearing at the State House for his first full day of work yesterday, signaled that he is taking a serious look at how to implement a sweeping overhaul of the way Massachusetts has organized some of its quasi-independent authorities. The newly sworn-in chief executive said control of the agencies would be key to having an effective and streamlined administration.
"I want to make sure that the government is organized in a way that enables us to drive the agenda we were elected to drive," Patrick said as he prepared to hold his first Cabinet meeting yesterday. "I don't want to have to wait for control of this or that quasi-independent. I just want it to be simpler and more straight forward."Without putting the agencies under the governor's control, Patrick would have to wait until the last year or two in his term before he gains a majority on the boards that control the agencies, which operate some of the most important projects and operations in Massachusetts, from Logan International Airport to the Big Dig...... .......
The governor's clearest path to taking over the authorities is getting House and Senate leaders to agree to rewrite the legislation that created each of the agencies and purposely insulated them from political currents.Already, lawmakers are raising issues of legality, including the effect on bonds approved under the current state authorities. Bondholders, along with many companies that deal with the agencies, value stability in their operations. Also, by opening up the enabling legislation for the authorities for debate, lawmakers could create a firestorm among interest groups wanting to influence how the authority boards are constituted
January 07, 2007
By Doug Irving
Two major airlines are vying to add Palmdale to their flight schedules, a change in fortune for the little airport there and an important step toward dispersing air traffic away from Los Angeles International Airport. Delta and United airlines submitted proposals late Friday for new air service from Palmdale, most likely to one of their West Coast hubs. Airport officials plan to unseal the proposals next week and could not comment on the details Friday evening. Delta operates a hub in Salt Lake City, and United has hubs in San Francisco and Denver.
Palmdale has some powerful backers in its corner, and they dangled more than $4 million in cash and benefits to entice airlines to take a gamble there. They required nothing less in return than 50-seat regional jets flying twice a day from Palmdale's airport to a larger city. An evaluation committee will begin going through the two proposals next week and should make its selection by February, said Paul Haney, deputy executive director of airports and security for Los Angeles World Airports. The agency operates both LAX and the Palmdale airport.
If all goes as planned, Palmdale could have major air service for the first time in years in time for the summer travel season......
But the airport's supporters, organized as the "Wheels Up Palmdale" coalition, still see great promise there -- especially with the breakneck growth of the surrounding Antelope Valley. They have $4.6 million saying Palmdale's airport can support regular air service. The money will help shield whichever airline moves into Palmdale from taking a loss on the deal for up to three years. It also will cover the rent and pay for a free blitz of advertising and marketing.The airport even has a new name, to help market it to travelers who might not otherwise see it on the map: LA/Palmdale Regional
I even submitted a letter to the Airport Commission last February (check the minutes) regarding Airport Privatization, since Chairman Nemeth told me that was the only way to make things happen, having to explain to him what it meant. Remember the "proper channels"?? That got dismmissed as quickly as it was reviewed.
Since that time the current concensus (specifically IMG) was that nobody would be interested, so puting it out to bid was a not even considered and we should simply extend the current agreement or long-term/sell ORH to MassPort. Between these two options, we might as well outright sell or long-term lease ORH to MassPort. Continuing the current agreement thatnow has an 8 year track history of failure, increase debt (2 million per year) and no commercial service would be senseless. This did not meant that an RFP for the entire airport was still not the number 1 recommendatio. How could IMG simply say that there would be not interest without putting out an RFP?
Bottom line we should, even now, be putting together an RFP for the entire airport with a front page story in the Wall Street Journal.. In the end if MassPort has the best bid, after a well publicized RFP, then all of these discussions would be moot??? Without a competitive bidding process (RFP), the question then becomes how will we know if we have gotten the best possible offer for the tax-payers of Worcester, the owners of ORH???
January 05, 2007
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Eclipse Aviation delivered its first customer aircraft Thursday, a significant milestone after a bumpy year in which the 9-year-old manufacturer endured a lengthy federal certification process. Eclipse president Vern Raburn handed keys - yes, this airplane starts like a car - to the first customer-ordered Eclipse 500 to Jet-Alliance chairman Randall Sanada and David Crowe, an owner-pilot who purchased a share of the aircraft.
"This aircraft represents the end of the development era for Eclipse," Raburn said during a ceremony inside an Eclipse hangar. "We are now a company. We have a transaction. We give Dave an invoice and Dave gives us money." Eclipse employees applauded during the handover, staged in front of the showroom-shiny white aircraft, trimmed in burgundy and blue with a tan leather interior. Crowe kissed the keys after taking them from Raburn. "Ain't she a beaut?" Sanada said.
Eclipse is among several manufacturers who are producing the new planes, known as microjets or very light jets. With two jets engines and a seating capacity for five or six people, they'll cost half as much as the most inexpensive business jets. Raburn said the price for Jet-Alliance's aircraft was $995,000, which included $82,000 in options. The shared-jet ownership cooperative, based in Westlake Village, Calif., was one of Eclipse's original customers - hence, the sales price. The Eclipse 500, dubbed the SUV of the skies, currently lists at $1.5 million. Raburn said the company hopes to deliver 500 planes to customers this year.
Dec. 2006 Dec. 2005 Change
Passengers 213,627 127,258 67.9%
Revenue passenger miles (000) 198,393 137,537 44.2%
Available seat miles (000) 253,188 178,795 41.6%
Load factor 78.4% 76.9% 1.5 pts
4Q 2006 4Q 2005 Change
Passengers 531,718 323,405 64.4%
Revenue passenger miles (000) 512,657 349,668 46.6%
Available seat miles (000) 652,469 446,680 46.1%
Load factor 78.6% 78.3% 0.3 pts
YTD 2006 YTD 2005 Change
Passengers 1,940,456 969,393 100.2%
Revenue passenger miles (000) 1,996,559 1,029,625 93.9%
Available seat miles (000) 2,474,285 1,294,064 91.2%
Load factor 80.7% 79.6% 1.1 pts
Right after AirTran and JetBlue announced they would begin service from Stewart Airport at Newburgh (PRIVATELY OPERATED(; Southwest Airlines gave Stewart a call. Stewart President Charles Seliga said he received a phone call from the folks at Southwest right after the word got out.
“They said hello and asked how things were going,” he said. Seliga recounted the conversation that the airline official said, “we’d get together again some time.”
In the meantime, startup airline Skybus in Columbus, OH has also spoken to Seliga about starting service in the Hudson Valley. That airline has taken possession of its first aircraft and has plans to start service in April. Airline officials have said they were looking at Stewart along with several other possible routes.
January 04, 2007
First, the airport is huge (1300 plus acres) and has an infrastructure that has cost many millions of dollars to build. How many millions?? Between the terminal, the runways and the various buildings, I bet you at least $30,000,000.. In current dollars if you were to buy a parcel of land (1300 plus acres) and install the same infrastructure in a city like Worcester--maybe more like $100,000,000...
Second, it is an asset to the tax-payers of Worcester. More importantly, the question is has it been an asset?? No, it has not!!! Not only has it not been an asset (Enterprise Account), but it has been a liability. We can not blame MassPort, or anyone else, but ourselves, for it not being the asset that it should be. We all need to figure out how we can make this under-performing asset truly the asset that it should be.
Third, we are at an extremely critical junction with 6 months left in the second operating agreement (3 years) with MassPort, that followed an initial 5 year operating agreement. I believe the next decision that we make effective July 1st, 2007, will determine whether or not this asset will 1) provide a return to the tax-payer or 2) continue as a drain over the next 20 years.
We have 6 months to get this right. Lets hope we have an open discussion of all the options now and do not rush into a decision on June 30, 2007. In the end, we all want the same thing-- an airport that contributes, not detracts, from the bottom line. Time will tell if we get this right.
A little holiday sing along:
A "Worcester Airport Christmas" sung to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas.
On the 1st day of Christmas my City gave to me:
Zero Airport Restaurants
1 Condemmed control tower.
2 Underutilized runways.
3 Empty parking lots.
4 RFP'ed acres
5 Massport employees.
6 Months until Massport owns us.
7 Budgeted,unfilled City positions
8 Years of failed MassPort man'gt.
9 Months of Allegiant service.
10 Thousand Commercial passengers.
11 Overpaid, airport apathetic councillors.
12 City employees working.
January 02, 2007
- ask for a report on the pros and cons to long-term lease or sell ORH to MassPort
- reminded everyone that we have 6 months in the current agreement, but commented on the recent speculation in recent month to long-term lease or sell ORH
- listed the many pros to have MassPort take over--1) they have more money, 2) instant credibility, 3) no more drain on the City tax-payers
- on the con side--1) we would lose control, 2) cargo planes and noise would be a concern to neighbor, etc.
Bottom line was that City Councilor Rosen was trying to get some information in advance on the pros and cons so he has the adequate information in hand to make an educated vote when, or should I say if, a vote is asked of him to approve a sale or long-term lease of ORH to MassPort.
Additionally, IMG is preparing route analysis for two prospective airlines. City staff are working closely with MassPort officials to review and make additional recommendations on these packages. Following the finalization of the packages, MassPort and the City will meet with representatives of the targeted airliness to determine interest in locating at the airport.
Here is the update from last month from the City Council on IMG (Dec):
Additionally, IMG is preparing route analysis for two prospective airlines. We are working closely with Massport officials to review and make additional recommendations on those packages. Following the finalization of these packages, Massport and the City will meet with representatives of the targeted airlines to determine interest in locating at the airport.
Noticing the similarity, I went back two more months (Oct):
Additionally IMG has prepared route analysis for two prospective airlines. We are working closely with Massport officials to review and make additional recommendations on those packages. Following the finalization of these packages, Massport and the City will meet with representatives of the targeted airlines to determine interest in locating at the airport.
Airports near LA hope using big city's name will help boost use
Regional airports outside Los Angeles are hoping they can boost use of their facilities by adopting the big city's moniker - a move officials say has been effective in other states. Los Angeles' Airport Commission voted last month to change the name of Ontario's airport to LA/Ontario International Airport and Palmdale's facility to LA/Palmdale Regional Airport.
Officials hope aligning the airports with a well-known geographic hook will draw travelers from outside California, encourage airlines to offer more flights at the facilities and take the pressure off aging Los Angeles International Airport.
"Adding L.A. to the Palmdale and Ontario airports conveys locally that there is a larger regional system for air transportation, better identifies the size of the Los Angeles region, and creates a better linkage between Palmdale and the Los Angeles basin," said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford, in a statement.
The move has helped facilities in New York, New Hampshire and Indiana, where regional airports have added the names of nearby cities or local landmarks to their names. In Buffalo, N.Y., for example, the airport was renamed to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Indiana's Humal Field was transformed into Terre Haute International Airport, and Manchester's airport became Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.