October 17, 2005

Worc Telegram Today Nick K

With the planned resumption of scheduled commercial air service at Worcester Regional Airport in December, there is now some debate about what the city is going to charge for parking at the airport. Since commercial air service was terminated at the airport in 2003, parking at the airport has been free. City Manager Michael V. O’Brien said no determination has been made by the city or the Massachusetts Port Authority, which manages the airport, on what parking fees will be established when air service resumes. "The decision of Massport and the city will come down to the reality of what our expectations are," he said.

A few months ago, Joe Cohen, a former member and chairman of the Airport Commission back in the 1980s, suggested that parking at the airport remain free during the first year or so of any new service, to serve as an incentive to get people back to the airport. He said the city should consider offering such an incentive because Worcester Regional Airport has pretty much been out of the minds of area travelers for 2-1/2 years. "You would want to do what you can to get people to use the airport again," Mr. Cohen had said in an earlier interview. "The airport wouldn’t lose any money if there was free parking because it’s not collecting any parking revenues now as it is."

Last week, District 5 Councilor Frederick C. Rushton also made a pitch for having free parking. He said it would be the death knell of the airport and the new service provided by Allegiant Air if the city charged high rates for parking. "We should do what we can do separate our airport from all the other airports in New England," Mr. Rushton said. "We should make ourselves the exception rather than the rule. We should offer free parking at the airport - or at a very reduced rate."

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