March 31, 2007

International Airport Construction

Not sure how this relates, but I found the story interesting. If nothing else it shows although the the City of Worcester simply has done a bad job operating the airport, there is an inherent value in an airport. If you want to read the whole story from the Businesswire, but here is a small part:

Among individual countries, China along with India holds considerable potential for investors. One hundred and eight new airports are to be constructed in China between 2006 and 2010, and the decision of the Chinese Government to stop providing subsidies to domestic airports by 2005 and to allow private investors to build, buy, or manage airports makes for considerable potential. The total cost expected to be incurred for the construction of new airports alone is $13.3 billion (110 billion Yuan). In India, the success of low cost carriers (LCCs) has changed the countries aviation profile as well as the outlook of both the government and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) toward airports. Eight more airports are likely to be built in the country by 2010, in addition to the 94 airports that exist at present. Existing airports by themselves promise opportunities as none of these airports meet the latest international quality standards.

Overall, the Asia Pacific airport financing market is positioned to grow and sustain its profitability for the next five years, largely due to the aviation boom arising from the growth of LCCs and the recent initiatives of various regional governments to increase private participation. "Recent analysis shows that by 2015, between $150 billion and $200 billion is likely to be invested in airports globally, out of which 40 to 45 percent would be invested in airports across the Asia Pacific region," says the analyst. "The above figures are in line with the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.0 percent for the air travel industry in the long term, with some 4.6 billion people predicted to travel by air by 2020."

March 30, 2007

Jet Blue & Cape Air

This has been mentioned many times how Cape Air has a code sharing arrangement with JetBlue to connect passengers in Boston to 21 direct destinations from:

  1. P-town
  2. Hyannis
  3. Nantucket
  4. Martha's Vineyard
Take a minute to go to the JetBlue web site. Try and book a ticket out of any of these four cities and check out the prices. How did ORH get left out, especially since Cape Air was one of the targeted airlines in their initial report nearly two years ago?

March 29, 2007


Once again we have an editorial letting us know what direction the negotiations are going with MassPort. We all know that this is a done deal and MassPort will have control of ORH long-term, but I had always been guessing a long-term lease at a nominal amount with options to renew. Now, I read "some other arrangement", other then a long-term lease??

The only other arrangement is an outright sale. In other words the final agreement with MassPort may an outright sale. In addition I particularly like the fact the Editorial board has decided that MassPort is the only "logical choice". MassPort may definately in fact be the most "logical choice", but why would we not test the market??

In closing the Editorial Board is telling us to sell ORH to MassPort, before any agreements have been even seen by anyone.

March 28, 2007

Airport For Sale

In today's Telegram.

Topping that list is transferring the control and title of Worcester Regional Airport to the Massachusetts Port Authority, which currently manages the facility under an operating agreement with the city. By transferring control and title of the airport to Massport, Mr. O’Brien said, the city would save about $750,000 annually. That is roughly what the city has to pay to cover its share of the airport’s operating deficit.

Mr. O’Brien emphasized that negotiations with Massport about such a takeover are still ongoing. He said the city simply can no longer afford to be in the airport business.

Note the key word above being "title", which does not mean lease but outright sale. I am not necessarily against this, but we need to make sure we receive fair market value. How do you know what fair market value us? In real estate you retain a broker, put a "For Sale" sign up on your house, advertise it in the Sunday papers and place it on the MLS. Would you only talk to your next door neighbor about taking title to your house?

In other words, if we need to sell the airport, lets put in on E-bay (half-kiddin), runs stories in all the major media outlets. Basically do all the things if you were going to sell your house today.


Today, March 28th, I will e-mail and mail again to the airport liaison my previous request for:

  1. all the quarterly reports to the DOT regarding the Small Community Air Service Grant
  2. copies of the two airline package prepared by IMG

As of yesterday, March 27th, I have received nothing in the mail nor any e-mails from our airport liaison.



March 27, 2007

What Else, Rockford?

Another story by Tom Bona at the Rockford Register. Remember Rockford was in a similar poistion as ORH with no commercial passengers who just last month (February) had 18,663 passengers. Please note the differences. There Executive Director, who did an interview here last week, is constantly in the news selling the benefits of Rockford and even freely mentions the airports that they are trying to lure for a Phoenix flight--1) Allegiant, 2) Festival and 3)SkyValue.

Airport wants Phoenix-area route

There’s plenty of interest on both ends, and Chicago/Rockford International Airport and Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz., have lobbied airlines to make that link.“Regularly scheduled service from RFD to Phoenix through Mesa is a very high priority for our airport authority as our next destination to be launched, hopefully soon. But needless to say before the fall migration,” Rockford airport Executive Director Bob O’Brien said.

Rockford also has scored high on a survey on Williams Gateway’s Web site, As of last week, there were 5,700 respondents and 406 of them named Rockford as a destination they wanted. About 1,200 listed Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, even though there’s already direct service to O’Hare from nearby Phoenix.“People have made a specific mention of Rockford over O’Hare which is, I think, saying a lot,” Williams Gateway Airport spokesman Brian Sexton said. “There’s a strong Chicago base in the valley so it makes sense to connect the two airports.”O’Brien said they’ve spoken with at least three airlines. They are startup Festival Airlines, which hasn’t announced any routes; SkyValue, which flies from Gary/Chicago International Airport to Williams Gateway Airport; and Allegiant Air, which flies to Rockford and Williams.

Staff writer Thomas V. Bona may be contacted at 815-987-1343 or

March 26, 2007


I heard a radio ad the other day about how difficult it was to get into Logan. The ad went on to say that you should look into alternatives like Manchester and Providence and mentioned their ease of access, airlines and web site. The ad itself did not surprise me, but what did was that Manchester and Providence teamed together to put an like that on the radio.

March 25, 2007

Public Open Meeting Laws

Let me try end this discussion on the "packages", that I do not even have yet nor do I know if are the subject of any current negotiations.. The Airport Commission as a "government body" falls under the auspices of the Public Open Meeting Laws. To that end they need to keep minutes of meetings etc so the public can be kept abreast of the Airport business.

There are times when the Airport Board, however, needs to do things outside the public view and that is when they are suppose to call an Executive Session---for example, negotiations with an airline or MassPort would fall under (in my opinion) #3 of the 9 given in the law. Executive Sessions must occur during Open Meetings, a roll call vote must be taken then entered into the minutes along with the reason for the Executive Session and records must be kept just like any other meeting but "may remain secret as long as publication may defeat the lawful purposes of the executive session, but no longer".

Here is my point, why do we not see an Executive Sessions being called during any of the monthly Airport Commission Meetings for negotiations with MassPort or airlines? If these issues are not mentioned during the monthly Airport Board Minutes and there are no Executive Sessions, when are these very important matters discussed? These are the questions that we should be asking.

A couple weeks back after I requested the airlines packages, I realized that the Airport would have to release these to me, even if negotiations were pending since Executive Sessions can not be cited. If we are in fact in negotiations, why would I post this information and somehow take the chance of damaging discussions with the prospective airline?

In summary the purpose of the Open Meeting Laws is to promote transparency in government, which is good thing. At the same time the law realizes that some things need to be done in private for the betterment of the public. That does not mean that certain rules as stipulated in the laws do not need to be followed.

Lastly I am not a government body and not subject to the Mass Public Open Meeting Laws. I do try to run a blog on the airport that is informative, civil and useful that somehow helps promote the airport and turn it into an asset for the community . If I feel some comments are none of the above, I reserve the right to delete them. There is no "double standard" here.

March 24, 2007

Linear Air

From the Lincoln Journal:

Lexington-based Linear Air last week announced plans to expand service having received certification from the French government to offer charter flights to the French West Indies, including St. Bart's.

The St. Bart's certification places Linear Air on a short list of U.S.-based operators with such a privilege. The certification expands the Linear Air Caribbean service area and offers travelers an affordable private air alternative to St. Bart's, where the landscape demands a smaller aircraft due to mountainous terrain and shorter runways.

Linear Air, which flies private jets out of Hanscom Field, also announced the closing of a $2.5 million deal with several new investors, including European private equity firm COFRA Group. The private air-taxi operator has now raised a total of $6 million to fuel its plan to be among the first to begin flying the Eclipse 500 Very Light Jet (VLJ) later this year.

March 23, 2007

Skybus Update

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Skybus Airlines, which had hoped to start flying in March or April, is at least two months from beginning operations. The company is waiting for certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is expected within five weeks, said Bill Diffenderffer, Skybus CEO.
"We?re heading toward flying in May," Diffenderffer said this week. "We went back and forth about announcing our routes earlier, but we decided it would just give our competitors a needless advantage since we can?t sell tickets until we get FAA approval."


On March 11th, I requested the two packages mentioned numerous times in City Council Minutes prepared by IMG, along with the help of the City of Worcester and MassPort, to sell an airline of ORH. In addition I requested all reports filed with the DOT (Department of Transportation) regarding the monies spent by the airport on the Small Community Air Service Grant.

As of today (March 22nd), I have received no information regarding my requests.

March 22, 2007

100 Days

100 Days until the end of the current operating agreement with MassPort.

March 20, 2007

Rockford Airport Director

After posting the February results yesterday by our model airport, Rockford, I e-mailed RFD Airport Director, Bob O'Brien, and asked if he would answer 5 questions for this blog's first, a "blog interview". He agreed and by the end of the day, within 6 hours from my initial e-mail request, here are his answers.

  1. How important is “Free Parking” when marketing RFD? [Bob O'Brien] Its very important when you consider the “total” cost of the “aviation experience”, which for most means either driving into Chicago O’Hare or catching the bus. “Time is money”, as the saying goes, and in the past, travelers have been willing to forgo the convenience (and time saved) of driving their car into O’Hare in favor of the bus, largely because of the $13 to $26 a day parking costs. Insomuch as people are “aware” of free parking, it’s a 2 run-homer! It truly helps “differentiate RFD” from the competition—not just O’Hare, but also the 5 other “competing airports servicing the region.

  2. You have not only have had good results with Allegiant but you have been able to expand with them. What it the most important thing that Allegiant is looking for when dealing with you?[Bob O'Brien] Allegiant, like every other airline considering the possibility of servicing “any other community”, wants “proof positive” that your airport can attract (and retain) passengers in sufficient numbers to make them successful at your airport, knowing full well that “air service” is extremely well established at adjacent airports. Said another way, “talk is cheap, action is king”!

  3. How has the addition of Chicago to your name helped attract passengers?[Bob O'Brien] By itself, the name change is meaningless. Its what you do with the potential name change. We used the name change to help the airline understand that RFD is in “close proximity and could function as a viable alternative” to the far better known and presumably more congested, competing airports, i.e. O’Hare in our case, possibly Boston for you.

  4. You have a great website how has the it worked in attracting passengers to RFD?[Bob O'Brien] It’s a tool; but like any other tool its what you do with it. Our website, like everyone else’s is a place to “research” the airport situation. However, unlike most, we use it to sign up potential travelers into our regionally sponsored “MilesAhead” program. This “club” is now 30,000 members strong—just imagine what we are able to do to motivate and otherwise stay in contact with “our customers”.

  5. Lastly how has WiFi worked in attracting passengers to RFD?[Bob O'Brien] We have Wifi in the terminal. I don’t think at this point it “attracts” much, by itself. Its more a matter of RFD living up to our “hassle-free, low cost/high value airport experience” montra in both word and deed. In time, things like wifi and other services we provide will help to better position and destinguish RFD as “a viable alternative”.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Bob and I can see why RFD is having the success that it is having right now. In the future we can save alot of money on consultants, by merely following the example of other secondary airports like RFD and Stewart, who are achieving a level of success facing the same exact challenges as ORH .

Why Allegiant Left??

From a comment on the prior post, we may know why Allegiant left ORH. From, please note comments from Allegiant boss from the article below. Ironically our Airport Director Eric Waldron (note February minutes) attended the same conference. Sounds like Mr Gallagher may be speaking about ORH in comment 1 and not ORH in comment 2.

Comment #1 from Mr Gallagher

That new approach must also apply to fuel services. "Fuel is a pain in the ass," says Gallagher, but it represents 40% of Allegiant's expenses. "So I'm in the fuel business." Airports should not "outsource and forget" fuelling services. "A monopoly fueller is a serious competitive handicap. We literally have a number of cities we won't go into because of this. They are not just making a living off us they are making a killing off us, and we are just not going to do it."

Comment #2 from Mr Gallagher

Allegiant Air chief executive Maurice Gallagher revealed at Network plans to add 50 cities over the next five years, including up to five new focus cities. Given Allegiant's unique model of flying where no one else flies, Gallagher's promise should translate into critical business for dozens of small US airports eager to attract more services. Allegiant now operates 68 routes, linking 48 small US cities with three focus cities.

Rockford Keeps Going

Keep in mind Rockford had no commercial passengers after 9/11 and is within one hour to a major airport (Chicago), but is thriving just like Stewart below. From the Rockford Register, last month (February) 18,663 passengers. Here is part of the story:

February airport’s busiest month since June ’05
by Thomas Bona

Staff writer Thomas V. Bona may be contacted at 815-987-1343 or

“You’ll be hard-pressed to find too many airports in the country who are showing 70 percent increases in year-over-year activity,” Executive Director Bob O’Brien said. “We’re certainly pleased with where we’re at. If we have any frustrations, it’s that we want to be going faster.”

The top destinations they’re targeting are Mesa, Ariz., and Fort Myers, Fla., said Mike Dunn, chairman of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority board of directors. Officials are also talking to Allegiant Air about links to the Seattle area and southern Texas and to United Airlines about flying to Washington, D.C., but those are likely further off.

In marketing the airport, officials note that planes flying in and out of here are 83 percent full, higher than the industry average.

The most popular routes in February again were Allegiant’s to Orlando and Las Vegas, both of which topped their January numbers. Apple Vacations’ route to Cancun was slightly up, while the Allegiant route to Tampa Bay and United’s route to Denver were about even with January.

“We have a new opportunity every day to demonstrate the strengths of RFD to United, to Allegiant, to Apple and to the entire industry,” O’Brien said.

March 19, 2007

Stewart Update

Good time for a Stewart update. From the Business Travel News Online. Part of the story below. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey buying a "reliever" airport for the last 93 years of a lease for 78.5 million.

NY, NJ Port Authority To Buy Stewart International

By Frank Rosci

MARCH 19, 2007 -- With uncongested airspace in dramatically short supply in skies above New York City and ever-growing numbers of passengers pushing the combined capacity of the city's three major airports to near maximum levels, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is doing something it hasn't done since 1949—buying another airport, namely Stewart International in Newburgh, N.Y.

According to the Port Authority's Board of Commissioners, the plan—which allows the agency to purchase the airport's operating lease from London-based National Express Corp. for $78.5 million for the contract's remaining 93 years—represents a necessary step in light of the city's crowded skyways and burgeoning ranks of travelers.

Some 104 million passengers in 2006, a record number, flew into and out of John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Teterboro Airport, said spokesman Marc Lavorgna, up 20 million passengers since 2003, with 125 million anticipated by 2015 and 150 million by 2025. In the next 10 years, Port Authority will invest $4 billion in the airports.

"Our interest in Stewart has been known for some time and today's action is the result of a long-term vision for tackling the air traffic challenges we face in coming years," said PA chairman Anthony Coscia on Jan. 25, 2007.

The announced date for the agency to begin operating Stewart is October 2007. Until then, the final details of the deal will be worked out, said Lavorgna. "Stewart is being acquired as a 'reliever' airport because New York is running out of airspace and eventually will run out of room sometime in the 2015-to-2025 timeframe. Passengers flying in and out of New York are experiencing long delays within a 235-mile radius of the city," he explained.

March 18, 2007

February Board Minutes

Have been post at this link.

Negotiations Last Time

The minutes have been getting a little better. I would think monthly meetings should automatically contain monthly flights in and out of ORH, passengers (right now 0), budgets numbers, etc.

As far as on-going negotiations (MassPort and airlines), they should be discussed during the meeting but under an Executive Session, where minutes are kept. Once the issue for the Executive Session has been completed, the minutes for the Executive Session should be released to the public.

Airport For Sale

There was a small piece in the Business Section today that maybe the City of Worcester should have put ORH on E-Bay or created a website

Actually I think both of these ideas are pretty good and should have been done the past 3 years and started the very day the current extension was signed. Check out these links:

  1. El Mirage Airport 5,900,000
  2. Kingsdale Airfied 1,100,00
  3. Airport South Central Section of the Country 12,000,000
  4. Paradise Valley California 1,200,000 March 7th post

March 16, 2007

Executive Sessions

First of all, I do not want to hurt negotiations with an airline.

Second, the airline packages that I requested should not be sent out if we are in fact in negotiations with one of these airlines. The packages should be held back under the privileges provided under Executive Sessions. I think there is an case under number 6 under the Mass General Laws on Open Meetings for the Airport Commission to deny my request.

Since the airport never has an Executive Session, however, they need to send me the information. Although I will receive it, I will not put it on the web until I am told that any pending negotiations are over.

If nothing else, this shows the need for Executive Sessions.

Two Airline Package

Sometime next week I expect to receive these. Once I do then I will ask whether or not any negotiations are still pending with either of these airlines. If they are I will not put the package on the website, I do not want to jeopardize anything; however, once I am told negotiations are over I will.


I caught the last community meeting up the airport regarding the Master Plan on television the other day. Airport Director Waldron told those in attendance that Allegiant pulling out of ORH, can not remember the exact words, was not due to ORH but more due to Allegiant specifically their fleet and the upcoming IPO. He then proceeded to site to back his case that Allegiant had pulled out of Stewart (Newburgh, NY) and Pease (Portsmouth, NH).

First off, Allegiant pulled out of Stewart, because National Express (company that runs the airport) does an excellent job. To that end, after Allegiant had agreed to come to Stewart, National Express also enticed JetBlue and Airtran. Once that happened Allegiant decided there was too much competition and changed their plans to come to Stewart. Secondly Portsmouth has two direct flights per week still to Sanford thru April.

How come Allegiant decided to keep two flights per week out of Portsmouth to Sanford (longer flight then ORH), but not ORH?

March 15, 2007

Channel 13 Sunshine Week

I was on a panel today that filmed an hour long show today at Channel 13 on Sunshine Week. It was alot of fun. After it was done, I want to make one thing perfectly clear.

There are matters that the Airport Commission should not discuss within the public view; for exampe, negotiations with MassPort or airlines. These discussions by the Airport Commission must, however, be done within the contents of a Monthly Board meeting. An Executive Session should then be voted in to discuss these negotiations outside the public view, where minutes are kept.

Once the underlying cause for the Executive Session has concluded, then the minutes of that Executive Session should be released. I could be wrong but I do not believe any Executive Sessions have been called since January, 2005. Since negotiations are never mentioned during the Airport Monthly Minutes and no Executive Sessions are called, how can tax-payers know what is going on????

Telegram Editorial

Here is the latest Editorial on the airport. Now this is what I call conducting the negotiations in public. Considering that the past Airport Chairman and a Current Commissioner is Mr Nemeth, it is clear to see that the negotiation are aiming towards a long-term lease at a nominal amount ($1), where I imagine (as predicted numerous time here on the blog for months) MassPort will pick up both the operating deficit and debt service with an option to renew the lease.

I am still not sure, however, how Councilor Rosen "pressed City Manager Michael V O'Brien for details for talks". All anyone has to do is read today's Editorial for the details of the negotiations.

Finally, I am not saying that this is a bad thing. In fact I think this will be a huge improvement, although I would like to review the final agreement. My only wish was that we had conducted an RFP for the entire airport and had created interest from other potential suitors, not just MassPort.

March 14, 2007

Councilor Rosen

What exactly did he do wrong last night? I watched the meeting and this is what I heard.

  1. Councilor Rosen said that he would not support an extension of the current agreement. We all agree that the first 5 year agreement and the current 3 year agreement have gotten us nowhere. Although we should thank MassPort for the subsidies, it has not worked for either the City of Worcester or MassPort.
  2. Councilor Rosen said we hoped ORH was either sold to MassPort or a long-term lease was executed with MassPort. This is the type of agreement that he would support.
  3. Councilor Rosen only wished that we were talking to other authorities and airport management companies, not just MassPort
Keeping in mind that I agree 100% that the negotiations between ORH and MassPort should not be made public until they are complete, what exactly did Councilor Rosen say wrong? If Councilor Rosen had divulged some details of the on-going negotiations then I would have whole-heartedly agreed that this would have been incorrect. Again what did he say that we all, especially those who read this blog, did not know already?

Has not the City Manager said the he was in on-going negotiations with MassPort for several months? What else can we be talking about but 1) continuation of the current agreement, 2) the outright sale to MassPort or 3) long-term lease to MassPort? Did former Chairman and current Commissioner Nemeth hurt the negotiations when he urged us to sell or long-term lease ORH to MassPort in his Sunday column a few weeks back also?

In my opinion I translated Councilor Rosen's comments to mean that he hoped only that the on-going negotiations would end up with an onright sale or long-term lease to MassPort. Not only do I agree, but I see nothing wrong with his comments

Negotiations 3

I agree again that the negotiations between MassPort and the City of Worcester should not be conducted in public. At the same time how strong of a bargaining position are we in when:

  1. MassPort now knows we have a 21,000, 000 dollar deficit
  2. ORH now costs the tax-payers 150,000 per month
  3. Only three months left in the current operating agreement and the cost increases to 225-250K per month
  4. We are not talking to anyone else except MassPort
In retrospect we maybe should have been having these discussions to let MassPort take over, and end the current operating agreement prematurely, when we had Allegiant here.

MassPort Negotiations 2

Lets hope that these negotiations are wrapped up fast. I only imagine that the effective date of the long-term lease to MassPort at a nominal price relieving us of both the operating expenses and debt service with an option to renew (my guess) will be July 1st. Lets hope we have plenty of time to review and discuss it.

A group of us got together nearly three years ago and came up with 15 recommendations and post them on the website. Again I really think we missed an opportunity by not taking advantage of #13: 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.

March 13, 2007

MassPort Negotiations

After watching tonight's City Council meeting, there are indeed things that need to be done outside the public view, like these negotiations with MassPort. Getting basic updates as to the general progress letting us know when to expect the final deal is enough. Airing specific details of the negotiations in public will only hurt the underlying negotiations. The progress of these negotiations, however, should be part of the Airport Board Minutes under an Executive Session.

My only point was that we should have been doing an RFP for the entire airport the past three years . Maybe a National Express would have wanted ORH?

At this point, it is too late and we need to get the best possible deal with MassPort for the tax-payers. I look forward to hearing the final results of the current negotiations.

DOT Small Community Air Service Grant

Will we apply this year???? From AMTOnline:

For the second consecutive year, the Small Community Air Service Development Program is alive despite efforts by the Bush administration to kill this grant program. And for the second consecutive year, the program will only award $10 million in grants instead of $20 million as it had in earlier years.

March 11, 2007

Public Requests

In honor of Sunshine week I am going to ask the Airport Public Liaison for:

  1. copies of the two packages that IMG prepared for two commercial airlines
  2. copies of all reports to the DOT on the expenditures for the grant monies

Sunshine Week

There is an editorial today in the Worcester Telegram in regards to Sunshine Week. Sunshine Week is a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. In fact the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association has asked legislators to consider six bills that would tighten up the state's Open Meetings Law.

Although I applaud these efforts, I would think that the Worcester Telegram would need to look no further then the Airport. There is one line in the Telegram story "the impulse to conduct the public’s business out of public view is strong. Lately, improper meetings of officials in the local coffee shop or pub to evade public scrutiny have given way to exchanges of e-mail." They may have well been referring to the airport, of which one of their own reporters is still on the board and a past chairman.

The airport is a public asset worth anywhere between 25-40 million depending on who you ask. Right now we are at a critical crossroads with only 111 days left in the current operating agreement. Based on the official monthly Board Minutes:

  • the tax-payers have no idea as to the status on any commercial airline negotiations.
  • the tax-payers have no idea what IMG has been doing, although we have spent more then $200,000 on their services.
  • no mention at all as to the progress in any negotiations with MassPort.
  • the meeting itself fails to include any budget numbers.
  • untimely posting of the meetings on the web, February is still not on-line as of March 11th
Take this test. During the summer of 2005, Tom Moore and myself were able to get copies of the Board Minutes for the entire year and post them on our website for everyone to see. Up until that point they were not being published anywhere. Now take a look at the January, 2005 Board Minutes. Although the meeting was 58 minutes long, the minutes are 9 pages long and full of excellent information.

After our efforts, the airport started posting their minutes on the web in January, 2005, but there has been a dramatic change in the minutes. Now look at any monthly minutes in 2005. Although the meetings still average about one hour, the minutes average 3 pages and the information is lacking to say the least.

Again from the Telegram " Open government is not an option. It is mandated implicitly by the Constitution and explicitly in its right-to-know offshoots, notably the Freedom of Information Act and, in Massachusetts, the Open Meeting Law. " I could not agree more with the Telegram, especially when an entity like the airport is costing the tax-payers right now $150,000 per month, after the MassPort subsidy.

John Travolta Home

Thanks Jim:

March 09, 2007

Privatization of Libraries

I heard a guy today on the radio say close the libraries. I do not like this idea but it got me to thinking of privatization. Few, if any, of the colleges own their own libraries of cafetaries then I found this story which actually even referenced Worcester.

T & G Editorial

Another in an endless stream editorials on the need to comply with the Mass Public Open Meeting Laws. I wish once they would look into the Airport Commission, of which one of their own employees sits. You can not find anything on:

  • the current negotiations with MassPort
  • current negotiations with any commercial airlines
  • current developments with IMG, a consultant that we have paid over $200,000
  • funds remaining in the DOT grant
  • budget numbers
  • lastly untimely posting of the minutes

Another Great Story From Tacoma


Local governments have never relished the job of owning and operating general-aviation airports. Those airports have a well-deserved reputation as money pits. They demand specialized expertise to operate successfully, and the air traffic they support creates political problems for elected officials who are the target of complaints about noise, safety risks and vehicular traffic.

Those concerns are why in recent weeks two Puget Sound-area governments, the City of Tacoma and King County, have almost gleefully announced preliminary deals to get out of the airport business. Tacoma is negotiating with a private party to lease Tacoma Narrows Airport, a chronically money-losing operation across the Narrows from the city. And King County has announced a draft agreement with the Port of Seattle to trade King County International Airport, better known as Boeing Field, to the port in exchange for a railroad right of way that it wants to convert to a trail on Lake Washington’s eastern shore. The Port of Seattle operates Sea-Tac Airport.

But Pierce County is an exception to that trend. Its modest-sized general-aviation airport, Thun Field on South Hill near Puyallup, has managed to avoid the major financial problems and neighborhood issues that have made other airports such financial pariahs. Before coming to Pierce County, airport administrator Michael Esher had worked as a deputy director of the Kansas City International Airport and then in Alaska Airlines’ airports and properties division.

Esher recently talked with The News Tribune about Thun Field and its prospects for the future.
Tacoma Narrows Airport cost the City of Tacoma about $500,000 a year in losses. What’s the financial picture at Thun Field? Our margins are very thin now. We’re in the black, but barely. That lets you pay your bills on a day-to-day basis but what it doesn’t give you is the capital resources to improve your facilities. You can fix the garage door, but you can’t put on a new roof.

The area near Thun Field is a hotbed of commercial and retail development. With such close neighbors, is noise a major issue?
I don’t want to minimize the noise issue. The words “noise” and “airport” are synonymous. I don’t consider it to be a significant issue here. We do a lot on campus to make pilots aware of the departure and approach routes that are less disruptive to the neighbors. We recently developed this information brochure to go into the pilots’ handbook.
To me the bigger issue is that we have some expensive development locating in this area, so what I’m focusing on in this business plan is that the facilities out here are dated. What I want to be sure is that the facilities are as good as the neighbors expect them to be. I have a big push on to renovate the county-owned hangars. I’m negotiating with a retail developer who is building west of the airport. What people will see when they enter this retail development by one entrance are buildings that are not of the caliber that I would like.

What’s the plan to generate more money to fund those improvements?
There are two sides to every airport – the land side and the air side. The FAA grants money for air-side improvements. If you look at our airfield, the paving is in really good shape, the lighting is good, we’ve got a new weather station and we bought some property to clear obstructions. They don’t fund land-side improvements. So what you have to do is lease out the land-side property at a price that generates enough money to fund improvements.

What sort of tenants are you looking for to lease land and facilities adjacent to the airport?
We’re looking for uses compatible with the airfield similar to the ones we have on the west side of the field. We have two aircraft airframe shops, a propeller manufacturing and rework shop. We have Sagem Avionics building glass cockpit displays. So we’re talking about no-smokestack light industries. The problem is that like a lot of small airports, we don’t have all the infrastructure in place, so it’s going to take a creative partnership with a developer. So, for instance, if he put some money into putting in the infrastructure here, he’d get an appealing land lease. As he got late-comer tenants, we’d gradually increase the rent to market costs once he’d amortized his costs of making the improvements.

Is there room for more flying activity at Thun Field?
The airfield itself has the capacity of about 150,000 aircraft movements a year. Now we’re at 90,000, so we have plenty of capacity for growth.

Do you see Thun Field becoming something other than a general-aviation airport?
It’s got about 250 aircraft based there so it’s predominantly a general-aviation recreational airport. I would guess – though it is increasing – that we are about 10 to 15 percent business aircraft. I don’t ever see our customer market being much different than it is now.

What about commuter flights?
I personally don’t rule out commuter flights because of how difficult it is to get in and out of Sea-Tac Airport. I could see a trend of more of the business aircraft coming more to a Tacoma Narrows Airport or Thun Field.

The big thing in the airport management business over the last 20 years has been to eke out a little more runway, a little more runway. That was an issue with Tacoma Narrows Airport. But in talking with the FAA, any new type of aircraft with composite fuselages and more powerful engines is going to use less runway, not more. Both the Eclipse jet and the Honda jet both need around 3,000 feet. I can easily see a guy with a couple of these jets offering trips to Portland and the next pickup is at 4 o’clock. I can see this, maybe not in my career, becoming a huge wave of the future.

Great story on Airport Privatization from Austin Business Journal.

ABIA officials consider going private

Despite taking out a $400 million loan eight years ago to build Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the city's thinking about becoming a landlord and leasing it out to a private company for hundreds of millions of dollars. City officials are debating that prospect privately and so far have not announced plans to pursue it, Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza says.

"Literally, we have spent ten minutes worth of discussion," he says, primarily spurred by plans by Chicago to lease its Midway airport. "It's really a stretch to say we're considering leasing the airport. Garza calls the leasing idea a "very limited opportunity -- if in fact we had any interest in pursuing the challenges and barriers that come along with it," he says. "We literally cannot say whether its a good thing or a bad thing -- whether the pros outweigh the cons -- we don't know."

But City Manager Toby Futrell will present the idea to city council members sometime in the future, Garza says, for the purpose of "reviewing and discussing the concept." The proposal would mirror that of at least six other U.S. cities that have applied to the Federal Aviation Administration to go private under that agency's Airport Privatization Pilot Program. FAA says Congress established the program in September 1997 to determine whether airport privatization could produce new sources of capital for airport development.

It is limited to just five participants, and only one large hub commercial-service airport can be leased under the program. Only general aviation airports can be sold. To be approved, FAA and most of the airlines using the airport have to agree. So far, Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y. is the only airport to go private under the program in March 2005. New Orleans Lakefront Airport has a pending application for final agency action. That leaves three positions available for interested airports, the FAA says.

Chicago submitted a preliminary application in September to take its Midway International Airport private, saying the arrangement would improve operations, safety and security. Three other airports have applied to the program, but later withdrew their applications, the FAA says. Niagara Falls International Airport in Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguidilla, Puerto Rico; and Brown Field Municipal Airport in San Diego all withdrew their applications in 2001.

If approved, Midway would be the largest airport to go private under the program. FAA ranks it 30th in the country by number of boarding passengers in 2005. It would be the only large-hub airport allowed under the pilot program.

March 08, 2007


I often hear the current City Administration refer to the City as being a business, just like any other business and I agree. As someone who runs a business, I have a pretty good idea every day whether we are making money, losing money or just paying the bills. What troubles me most about the recent spat of pay raises was the timing.

Although I truly believe the City Councilors may not have realized the extent of the projected losses (21 million), there was not way it was a complete shock to everyone. In retrospect the five year financial plan last year and the warning from Mr Delsignore about a month or two ago was a warning shot prepping the tax-payers for this 21,000,000 shortfall.

Kudos to the City Councilors, if they do give back their payraise. Now lets hope they start asking tough questions like a real Board of Directors at a private company on the progress of:
  • City Square
  • South Worcester Industrial Park
  • University Partnership
  • Status of the negotiations with MassPort.
  • why a lease at 15 Coppage Drive was renewed last year for 20 more years at 12 per year when there were clear violations in current lease.
  • Maybe we should look into a tax relief month whereby people can pay any back taxes during a said month and the City will waive any outstanding penalties and interest.

Next time you are in Westboro drive by the old Bay State Abrasives site. Similar project to City Square and you will not believe the progress.

March 07, 2007

News Last Night

Did anyone see the City Manager on Channel 46 News last night?? He was on talking about "privatizing" the airport. This process should have start July 1st, 2004, the day we signed the current 3 year extension with MassPort when a large portion of the losses were being picked up by MassPort.

I am not being a Monday morning quarterback on this either. We have been talking about this since 2004 , brought this to the attention of then Chairman Nemeth and even presented this suggestion to the airport board last February, 2005--check the minutes. We should have had a RFP for the entire airport marketed the past three years looking for a National Express (Stewart), Spanish Company (Milwaukee) or maybe one of the nearby airport authorities (Providence, Manchester, Hartford) looking at us.

Now,when the airport is costing the tax payers $5,000 per day and the current agreement ends in less then 4 months is a little too late. There is only one person that we are talking with and that is MassPort. Stay tuned for a long-term lease at a nominal price with options to renew with MassPort.

For the life of me I do not understand that , if this is what is going to happen, lets get it done now and start saving $5,000 per day?

March 06, 2007

Councilor Rosen

Tonight Councilor Rosen asked some questions on the airport. this fiscal year--July last year through June of this year--after the MassPort subsidy ORH costs the City of Worcester's tax-payers $1,800,000. Recently I have been guessing at $1,200,000.. This is unreal!! It costs us right now $150,000 per month or $5,000 per day right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why are we waiting??? We all know the MassPort deal is a done deal, just sign the deal now. Why wait until July 1st when we could save $5,000 per day??

City on "the Bubble"

City Manager painted a very very bleak picture of the financial situation of the City of Worcester and described the City being on "the bubble". Little confused by some of the numbers but it sounded to me that between the School and City budgets, we are looking at a 20 million dollar deficit.

If there was any doubt, you can say goodbye to ORH via a long-term lease with options to renew at a nominal fee, but the operating deficit and debt service (I hope) will be picked up by the leasee (MassPort). Wonder if they will pay any real estate taxes on ORH? Is MassPort a non-profit?

Although I feel this will be an improvement, let me give you the real estate example I used yesterday. Assume you owned an apartment building that I managed. After collecting the rents and paying all the bills, it was costing you money every year and was really starting to drain your finances.

I find a person who will lease the building long-term at a nominal price each year, but agrees to cover any losses during the lease. Your first question would be how did I market your building? Maybe you would about any other offers??? If I told you that I did not market your building and only talked to this one buyer, would you be happy?

March 05, 2007


I know this sounds like a baby, but here is proof that you never know who may be interested in ORH? I am not saying this Spanish Company would have necessarily been interested in ORH, but the airport administration had a fiduciary responsibility to get the highest return on a City owned asset. There is no excuse why we could not have been trying to privatize the airport via a well-publicized RFP the past three years:

WITI-TV, MILWAUKEE -- A Spanish company is looking at buying Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport.But airport authorities say the facility isn't up for lease or sale.Milwaukee County supervisors looked at selling or leasing the county-owned airport last year.They said it could raise money to supplement the budget. And they also thought selling it would mean they wouldn't have to turn it over to a proposed regional airport authority.A study this fall figured a long-term lease of Mitchell could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars over a 50-year period.The Spanish newspaper El Economista reported last month that Grupo Ferrovial, a multinational development corporation, was looking at Mitchell.The company owns BAA, the world's largest airport management company.A new program by the FAA allows up to five U.S. airports to be privatized.The only airport to do so -- Stewart International in New Windsor, New York, is ending its privatization seven years into a 99-year lease

March 04, 2007

15 Coppage Dr

Newspaper Today:

Leasehold Interest
12 acres-41,000 SF Building

The leasehold interest is for an City of Worcester asset (land) that the Airport Commissioners renewed last year for $12 per year with the Kennedy Family Trust for 20 years, despite the fact the there were various violations of the current lease including subletting, not being current with taxes currently over 190,00 and a bankruptcy.

Does anyone care?

March 03, 2007

Tacoma Narrows Update

Story from the Ken Sherman at The News Tribune. Basically these guys at Tacoma Narrows are doing all the things that we should have been doing. Remember how the County wanted to buy the airport, but then another private party stepped forward:

Lots of pluses in airport deal

Negotiations near success in putting Narrows Airport in private hands

Tacoma officials are close to landing a deal that could wipe out the city’s Narrows Airport debt, eliminate a longtime drain on the budget and put the facility in the care of a professional airport operator. The pact is being negotiated with an unnamed private party. City Manager Eric Anderson and facilities manager Mike Slevin told City Council members Tuesday the proposal could:

• Give the city $4.2 million in upfront lease payments. That’s enough to pay the city’s $1.2 million share of safety zone improvements and erase most of a loan from the general fund.

• Eliminate a biennial operating deficit of $550,000.

• Generate cash to the city from a 20-year lease reflecting the market value of the property.

• Remove responsibilities for airport operation and maintenance from the city.

• Include an option for the leaseholder to buy the airport if the Federal Aviation Administration consents to a sale and releases the city of its obligations to the agency.

Anderson stressed the negotiations are not complete, but he and Slevin presented an upbeat report that left council members smiling. The two didn’t know when they might bring an agreement to the council for approval, but Anderson said he hopes to have something in place by the end of March. The amount of the monthly lease is still under discussion.

“I think this is good progress,” Councilman Mike Lonergan said during an afternoon study session. “I think this is the direction in which we want to move. Other council members agreed. But many left little doubt that what they’d really like to see is a signed sale agreement with an airport operator.

Councilman Rick Talbert called the airport “a huge asset for the area.”

Councilwoman Julie Anderson described it as “a regional economic tool.”

The city and Pierce County talked last year about the possibility of the county buying the airport, but those discussions fizzled, Slevin said. The city would need “a full-blown appraisal” before selling the 43-year-old general-aviation facility on the Gig Harbor peninsula, Slevin said.
The city has estimated its value for airport use at $10.5 million. Tacoma’s 644 acres, an island of city-owned land in unincorporated Pierce County, could fetch more than $20 million if sold to developers, estimates show.

But that kind of sale would be difficult. Since airports are considered necessary for safety and welfare of citizens, it could be difficult to secure FAA approval to do something else with the land. “The FAA is in the business of keeping airports open for the most part,” Slevin said. And the city could be on the hook for airport grants it got long ago from the FAA, Slevin said. Neighbors in the area might object.

But there is a market. “The desire to develop this piece of property in the development community is huge,” Slevin said. “And there’s no fear of taking on the FAA, taking on the private community groups and just paving the place,” for the construction of houses and condominiums, he said.

Lonergan and others liked the idea that the city might get out from under the financial burden while the region still keeps its airport. “I think it would be a big, big mistake” to sell it as other than an airport, he said.

Kris Sherman: 253-597-8659

CIty Council Meeting

I thought the first meeting of every month contained the monthly report summarizing all the projects going on in the City like the Airport, South Worcester Industrial Park, Mason-Winfield, etc. I did not see it or anything at all on the airport.

119 days left to the end of the operating agreement.

March 02, 2007

JetBlue Service Area

JetBlue now services five cities in Massachusetts. We all know Boston and now have added:

  1. P-Town
  2. Hyannis
  3. Martha's Vineyard
  4. Nantucket
Go to their website and you will see all of these cities listed. How do we lose out on this?

March 01, 2007


I just went on their website and checked out a ticket from P-Town to Boston an then on to Fort Myers. The cost was $149!!!!! I would book this ticket everyday of the week. In fact I would easily pay $199 and maybe $249 for this flight out of ORH.

How did ORH miss out on this shuttle while P-Town, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Hyannis did get a shuttle to Boston on Cape Air, who has a code sharing arrangement with JetBlue. ORH is:

  1. 2nd largest city in New England
  2. catchment area of over 2,000,000
  3. $100,000 of readily available DOT grant monies
  4. relatively new empty terminal
  5. MassPort (owner of Boston) is our partner is the destination of these flights
  6. our consultant, IMG, has been paid over $200,000 to help recruit and retain an airline, actually identified Cape Air in their original report about 18 months ago.

How did we miss this opportunity? Imagine being able to drive up to ORH and catch a flight for $149 to Fort Myers for Spring Training on JetBlue.