May 01, 2007

Councilor Irish Urges More Airport Talks

Article in today's paper from Councilor Irish says

“Currently, we are only engaged with Massport about the airport’s future and that may not necessarily get us the best deal possible for this valuable asset,” Mr. Irish said. The councilor said he would like to see the city manager meet with investment bankers to see how the city can pitch the airport to groups that deal with infrastructure funds.

I could not agree more; however we have been saying this very thing since right after the current agreement was signed in 2004. Let me set the record straight: The idea of privatization (section about it) was brought to Chairman's Nemeth attention who told us to submit the concept of privatization to the February, 2005 Airport Board Meeting. Instead I have had to read editorials by Mr Nemeth that we should sell ORH to MassPort, which I always think was and is conflict of interest as an Airport Board Member. In the end the idea was dismissed, since IMG did not feel there would be any potential buyers. This never made any sense to me then or now and as I have said what did we have to lose to attempt it. In fact is there not a fiduciary responsibility to the tax-payers of Worcester to get the highest return on our assets?

I agree whole-heartedly with Councilor Irish (and Councilor Rosen who has been saying this also for months), but let me add that we should invite the airport authorities that run Providence, Hartford and Manchester to ORH. In addition, maybe more importantly, we should invite National Express, the company that took Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York private, but has recently sold the airport back to the Port of Authority of New York and New Jersey for a rather large profit. Let us not forget Harry Tembenis suggestions that we should consider European Airlines that may want to set-up shop in the US like Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Virgin America. I say call Eclipse, SouthWest and JetBlue to see if there is any interest there. Bottom line leave no stone unturned.

Lastly I commend Councilor Irish for putting this idea forward, but wonder why we did not start doing this the day the current agreement was signed on July 1st, 2004, rather then two months before the expiration when we will own 100% of both the operating deficit and debt service. Is 60 days enough time to do all of this?


Anonymous said...

Bill, T&G, page B3, this morning:

"I (OBrien) will not divest this asset at the expense of quality of life in this city or its neighborhoods"

Now before I go off the deep end here, I will ask others here to please translate that for me, because maybe my take is wrong.

Anonymous said...

mfforxone major problem i see in that post...european airlines cannot come set up shop in the US. That is the problem Virgin America ran into. For an airline to operate between two US airports it must be majority owned by a US taxpayer/firm. That said, easyjet and Ryanair will not be coming here...unless there is a major legal change

Bill Randell said...


Maybe a Virgin America or Ryan Air could long-term lease the airport and let ORH remain the owner? Believe me I am not saying that this is the answer.

I am saying, however, that every possible option should be investigated.

Anonymous said...

Well they could...however, virgin has already stated they plan to fly to major airports. It would be useless for them to lease an airport they do not plan on serving. Likewise for Ryanair, what good would it do them to lease an airport in a country they do not even fly in. And as a side note, for anyone who has flown Ryanair, which i have, i would never want to see any airport owned by them....they bring low cost to a ludicrous level. i.e. no window shades, safety maunals printed on the backs of the seats...whatever, its irrelevant. Though while i agree everything should be explored, I just dont see it happening

Bill Randell said...


Virgin America may not be a good fit. In fact I mention it more as a example, but what about Easy Jet?? Keep in mind one of the investors supposedly behind Allegiant is Ryan Air so I would leave no stone unturned.


Anonymous said...

Well as i said, im open to all ideas for the airport, however, with the laws the way they are in the US, i just cant see any european airline leasing an airport in the US that they will never be able to fly to. Something stateside like airtran or frontier or jetBlue would be 100 times more likely than anything from europe. Even with the coming of open european airline can fly between two US airports. Sorry to continuously be negative on this, but its just the way i see it.

Anonymous said...

FYI on MBTA to Worcester...

From 05/02/07 Boston globe...

Pay to play?
By Steve Bailey, Globe Columnist | May 2, 2007

Can Deval Patrick put the squeeze on his old alma mater, Harvard University?

His administration has been trying to do just that for the past few months, without much success. Patrick's transportation secretary, Bernard Cohen, has been negotiating hard with CSX Corp. to buy its rail lines west to Worcester, south to Fall River and New Bedford, and north to Somerville, a deal that over time would allow the state to improve and expand commuter rail and MBTA service, a very good thing.

A top administration official tells me there could be a deal within the next couple of months. The big hurdle: the money, of course. Any deal would easily run into the tens of millions.

That is where Harvard comes in. The world's richest university is moving ahead fast on its campus of the future, some of it situated on the old Beacon rail yards in Allston. Harvard wants the state to build a commuter rail station to serve the Allston campus, a transit hub that could also be part of the long-discussed Urban Ring, a network of bus and rail links that would run inside the Route 128 corridor.

Everyone understands what Harvard's science-heavy initiative in Allston means to the state's economic future. But the Commonwealth, facing a bill estimated at $20 billion over the next 20 years just to keep the current transportation system from falling apart, is looking for help from Harvard, too. Tell me who isn't?

Cohen has been pressing Harvard to partner -- that is, help fund -- the purchase of the CSX lines. The thinking is an Allston transit hub would create value for Harvard so it is reasonable for the state to "recapture" some of that value through a public-private partnership. It is a theme others around the state will be hearing often in the future.

Harvard isn't buying it, and has told the state so. We're a university, not some mall developer looking to cash in on a train station next door, Harvard says.

Enter Boston University, or so the state hopes. Like Harvard, BU has big plans for its campus. In March, BU took the wraps off a master plan to turn the concrete wasteland along Commonwealth Avenue near the BU Bridge into the new heart of the university, uniting the east and west campuses. The BU plan also includes a new transportation hub, with a new Green Line stop, a new commuter rail stop, and a future stop on the Urban Ring.

The state looks at two big universities, one with an endowment of $29 billion, and sees leverage. Is there really room for two transportation hubs a half-mile apart? Probably not, the state says. Would it matter if one institution stepped up and the other didn't?

"Competition is always good," a state official told me. "That is the world we live in."

Harvard says it hasn't said no to anything yet. "Harvard's mission is not to be in the railroad business," says Kevin Casey, the university's director of government relations. "But we are interested in continuing to talk to achieve mutual goals." Joe Mercurio, BU's executive vice president, understands well the competition. "It doesn't make sense to have two full stations."

Transportation is among the state's most promising economic development tools. It is how we link Greater Boston's innovation economy with the workforce and lower-priced housing elsewhere in the state. Don't think transportation, think jobs. The New Bedford-Fall River commuter rail is just the most obvious, and overdue, example.

How to pay for it is less obvious. Everybody is for transportation -- particularly if someone else is going to pay for it. Expecting those who benefit to also pay is not unreasonable.

Steve Bailey is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at or at 617-929-2902.

Harry Tembenis
Worcester, MA

Anonymous said...

Regarding Virgin American and EasyJet, yes Matt does have a point about the foreign ownership, BUT ...both are currently working on loopholes AND lobbying US politicians to change the laws. Legacy carriers in particular Continental are the huge stumbling block to progressing on this issue.

Bill cites a good example of RyanAir backing Allegiant.

Harry Tembenis
Worcester, MA

Anonymous said...

"I (OBrien) will not divest this asset at he expense of quality of life in this city or its neighborhoods"

What does this mean?

We want an airport but we only want a minimal number of commercial flights (larger, louder aircraft) b/c anything more will upset those used to living in the mostly quiet flight paths?

We have to have Massport b/c we can still influence them politically, whereas we have considerably less or no control over a private owner.

We know we have to off load our airport, but we still want to keep our sticky fingers in its operation.

We dont know WTH we want, but we know we have to do something.

What's it going to be folks? A successful airport with copious amts of comm. air service or more of the same baloney.

If, for example, UPS walked into City Hall with $20M in their hands they would be shown the door. This is just an example, I know it would never happen.

Let's get it over with and move on to off loading the Auditorium, Healds Beach on Indian Lake, No Hope Cemetary, and the Fire Alarm Building on Park Ave. WTH, sell the Park Ave Fire Station, too.

Anonymous said...

tim mac was concerned about no flights at Worcester after viwing flightware. looking at todays flightware 5/2/07, it looks like there are many flights. this is a good sign that planes are coming back. kudos swissport for your continued dedication

Bill Randell said...

Gee I wonder who "anonymous" is?? Kudos to Swissport, how funny and self-serving is that..

Anonymous said...

Sky Value has pulled out of Gary. They took $325,000 in Marketing $$ with them!!!

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Swissport? That is really funny. ALmost everyone knows that Swissport is a big part of the problem. Removing Swissport is a first step in achieving the solution.

Anonymous said...

I though Pat SantaMaria was the problem. Conrad from the Radio Shop hates him,Arthur Arakelian Can't stand the guy either. When are they going to Man up ands take the guy head on instead of talking behind his back?