December 30, 2007

Lt Gov Murray

Great story in the Boston Globe.

Nemeth Column

Today's column featured sarcastic predictions for 2008, click here. How can any column of this nature, not have some comment about the airport? Myself I am not sold on an actual canal reconstruction, but you got to give the people credit, who have been putting this together. They have created interest in the area and the economic development that has followed. Maybe success has been achieved merely by discussing a potential canal? In addition, the City of Worcester is not losing $2,000,000 per year here, like we are at the airport. They should be praised not mocked.

Here are some comments that would have been appropriate for today's column:

  1. The tax-payers of Worcester will find out what IMG has been doing with the over $100,000 from the DOT Small Community Air Service Grant to recruit and retain an airline.
  2. All the buildings at ORH will have heat, running water, no falling insulation and leaking roofs will be repaired.
  3. The approximate $200,000 remaining in the DOT Small Community Air Service Grant will actually be spent on attracting airlines, not consultants, during the one year extension that DOT granted ORH to spend these monies.
  4. The 20 Master Plan, that has been worked on for 4 years, will be released but the results will be out of date and a new 20 Year Master Plan will be started.
  5. The airport will be put out to an RFP to privatize the ENTIRE airport, National Express, the company that ran Stewart under a 99 year lease but was recent bought out by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, wins the bid paying annual lease payments to the City of Worcester, as well as property taxes, and makes ORH a success overnight.
  6. National Express calls Allegiant Airlines offering the remaining $200,000 of DOT Small Community Air Service Grant and Allegiant decides to come back to ORH.
  7. A new website is created for the airport.
  8. The restaurant slot is put out to an RFP and is won by Dunkin Donuts, who not only opens inside but has a curbside drive-up window with the motto "Don't Fly By".
  9. Naming right to ORH are also bought by Dunkin Donuts calling ORH the "DUNK".
  10. FREE parking at ORH
  11. Airport Director starts a weekly radio show where he gives updates on the happenings at the "DUNK".

December 28, 2007

Rockford More Good News

These guys are really starting to bother me. From our friend at the Rockford Register, Tom Bona, read this. Starting in June two flights per week from Rockford to Ireland.

December 27, 2007


Looks they are having all sorts of trouble, both financial and with their planes. I nver understood their marketing plan in the first place. I would consider Skybus out of Chicopee direct, but not with a stop in Columbus or Greensboro?

Now I also read MaxJet has gone under. Over the past few years we have seen the folowing companies go out of business:

  1. TransMeridian
  2. SouthEast
  3. Hooters
  4. SkyValue
  5. MaxJet

Then we have seen many other start-ups never start-up like DJ Air and Festival. In retrospect it makes what Allegiant has done even more impressive. We really blew it with Allegiant, while we still sit on over $200,000 of DOT Small Community Air Service Grant monies. Since they have left ORH, Allegiant has added Fort Lauderdale and Tampa/St Pete as destination cities. How nice would it have been to have direct service to three Florida destinations out of ORH?

December 24, 2007

City Insurance Consultant Fined

The City of Worcester's insurance consultant, GBS-Group Benefits Strategies, was fined $30,000 by the Attorney General. Here is a link to the press release. The City of Worcester should ask for 5500 reports from their health carriers to make sure that their consultant did not receive commissions on top of their consultant fee from Blue Cross and Fallon.

December 23, 2007

City Square June 15, 2008

I was just reading through the agreement between Berkeley and the City of Worcester. Looking at page 38 regarding permit fees, it appears to me that June 15, 2008, may be a very important date in whether City Square happens or not.

If I am reading this correctly, it looks like a 2nd permit fee of $750,000 needs to be paid by that date (the first permit payment of $250,000 has already been made). This $750,000 fee can be avoided if the developer submits a termination notice to the City of Worcester. Not only would they not have to pay the $750,000, but they will get the first payment of $250,000 back in 30 days.

If I am Berkeley based on the tight credit markets and the real estate market, I would stongly be thinking of not submitting the 2nd permit fee of $750,000, terminating the agreement and getting my first payment of $250,000 back. Bottom line is that June 15, 2008 is less then 6 months away.

Sunday Update

  1. No Nemeth Story on the airport
  2. According to Nick K in the newspaper the build-out of 11,300 square feet of space will cost 1.25 million. You can build a brand new building from the ground up of the same size for less then this? No way should the City of Worcester be doing this.

December 22, 2007

Union Station

Check out this story in the Telegram. The jist of the story is that the City of Worcester is going to take out a loan for $750,000 to build 11,000 square feet of unfinished space at Union Station. Lets not even get into the cost of nearly $70 per square foot, which seems incredibly high for a build out. Again lets put that aside for now, but I still have two major problems with this.

First off, we simply do not have the money to do this. If we really want these two tenants then lets cut them a deal on the lease and have them do the build out. What happens when we spend the monies for the build-out for the restaurant/night club and there is no business to pay the rent? Why do we think this club will succeed when other have failed? Bottom line is that the City of Worcester should not be in the lending business for commerical build-outs.

Secondly why these two tenants? Maybe if I, or you, knew the City of Worcester was willing to front $750,000 to build out the space other prospective tenants may be interested. In the end, I do not like the idea of the $750,000, but if we are going to do it then it should be a RFP open to everyone.

Santa Claus

My daughter, picture to the right, called Santa yesterday and gave her hour long list of things that she wants. Upon finishing, I took the phone and asked for a Mr Bob Nemeth, past chairman and board member of the Worcester Airport Commission, to write a story this Sunday about ORH.

December 20, 2007

Broken Meter

This has nothing to do with the airport and I have nothing against the employee who ticketed me, but you got to love this one. Working downtown, I sometimes have to play the meter games, whereby you park at a meter and run to it every two hours to fill it back up. Sometime you win sometimes you lose.

Today I had a broken meter. As I am walking by my car, however, I notice that I am getting a ticket. To myself, I figure the meter must have got fixed and then expired, but that was not the case. How can I get a ticket, when the meter has not expired?? Believe me I have seen these guys (and gals) berated many times for simply doing their job, but this one had me completely bewildered. I had to ask how is this possible?

I was then informed he was tracking the time himself and knew that I had parked there more then two hours (which I had) and he ticketed me?? Even though the meter had not expired and I would have put more monies into it if it was not jammed, the ticket was mine. I was then told that after my initial two hours (max allocated for this meter), I should have moved my car?

Bottom line is that I managed to get a ticket for a meter violation, even though the meter had not expired.

December 19, 2007

December 17, 2007

Tom Bona Interview

Here are the answers to the five questions that I asked Tom Bona of the Rockford Register for our second ever blog interview. Thanks Tom!!!

1) How important has the recent success of Rockford been to the City of Rockford itself?

So far, the main benefit has been for companies that use UPS regularly, because UPS has its second-largest sorting hub here.

It remains to be seen exactly how much the city will benefit from the airport's more recent success, but local leaders do feel it will have a very good economic impact. They expect to see not only an increase in cargo carriers at the airport, but more distribution centers, freight forwarders, trucking companies, etc., pop up nearby. They also see more aircraft maintenance and aerospace jobs, which would pay more than distribution jobs.

The increase in passenger service has somewhat benefited gas stations, hotels and restaurants, but the real benefit for those businesses is down the road, if passenger totals approach a million or more a year.

I think everyone would agree that RFD to date has largely untapped its potential as an economic driver, but if the developments being sought work out as planned, it could really help rev up the local economy.

2) Do you think Rockford could be where they are today without your Airport Director, Bob O’Brien?

Bob has been very important as a salesman for the airport (both to potential passengers and airlines) and as a tireless, energetic public face. He dares locals to dream big about the airport, and clearly articulates how he thinks it can reach those dreams. Having someone who can both think big and articulate a clear vision for getting there is key.

But - and Bob would be the first to say this - the credit also goes to the Greater Rockford Airport Authority. The board hired Bob because they wanted big things for the airport and wanted to buck conventional wisdom that it couldn't draw passengers in the shadow of O'Hare. They've backed him in his efforts to bring more passenger and cargo service here, have funded initiatives and also pushed him to do as much as he can. You can have the most dynamic airport director in the world, but if the people who hired him or her aren't dynamic too, it doesn't mean much.

3) What role do you think Rockford’s Miles Ahead program has played in the success of Rockford?

It has at least 23,000 people outside of our county (and another 10,000 in the county) at least thinking about Chicago Rockford International Airport. They in turn could be passing information to their friends. I know the recent "Big Event" promotion where they gave $30 to $100 cash back to anyone buying tickets sold 600 tickets. They basically spent $35,000 in "advertising" to sell those tickets, get people in the door, give them a good experience when they fly and hopefully get them returning. They do smaller promos all the time, and those have at least played some role in getting people in the door. The proof will be if numbers continue to advance.

4) What role do you think Free Parking has played in the success of Rockford?

Free parking is huge because it is one of the single biggest differentiating factors in getting customers away from O'Hare (and to a lesser extent, Milwaukee). It's part of the "hassle free" brand the airport is trying to create - come here and it'll be easier and cheaper.

5) What do you think lies ahead in the future?

Allegiant is going to continue to grow - they've indicated they want to add one more domestic destination, one Caribbean or Mexican destination and several "niche destinations" to their system in the next few years. Rockford would continue to get most of those, it would appear. United will likely stay put, but it's not clear if it would add flights or destinations … it doesn't seem likely right now. The big question is whether the airport can get another "name brand" airport or two for it to grow as fast as officials want. That would be someone like Southwest, Jetblue, Skybus, ATA, etc. … and with the industry what it is, who knows their intentions? You can bet, though, the airport will continue to market itself like crazy to the western Chicago suburbs and southern Wisconsin and, if numbers continue to increase, some airline will listen. The thing naysayers forget is, RFD isn't marketing to all of Chicago, just the people who are as close or almost as close to here as to O'Hare.

On the cargo front, I can see a couple of carriers bringing some of their operations here next year, and more joining them later on. There are plenty of economic reasons for cargo carriers to come here: it's cheaper, has good transportation infrastructure, has the runway lengths and an airport staff willing to bend over backwards for them. I think you'll see big cargo growth sooner than passenger, but the possibilities for both are there.

Thomas V. Bona
Staff writer
Rockford Register Star

December 16, 2007

X-Mas Present

Per usual nothing about ORH from Mr Nemeth, while there is another great story from Tom Bona about Allegiant's new route (RFD to Fort Lauderdale). Maybe for X-mas, Mr Nemeth could write a story about why has a secondary airport like RFD, with all the same challenges as ORH, been able flourish while we stumble along yet. He could even do an in depth analysis as to why Allegiant not only has stayed but expanbded at RFD, while they only lasted 9 months at ORH?

December 14, 2007

Morgan Construction

Not good. Story in the paper. You can spin this anyway you want, if Morgan is acquired jobs will be lost. Losing another stalwart like Morgan is not good.

December 13, 2007

October Board Minures On-Line

Hree you go, click here. Where do I start?

  • No marketing report again. All year there has only been one marketing report filed. That was in September and that was to let us know that the expiration of the time allotted to spend the Small Community Air Service grant was extened one year. We have not one report on any discussions with any airlines during 2007.
  • Master Plan is still not done, it has literally been 3 years maybe 4 that we have worked on a 20 year Master Plan
  • the winner (and lone bidder)of the RFP for the parcel of land, Winward who had delayed their decision whether to buy the parcel until next March, now has paid $2,000 to advertise and recruit potential prospects?
  • insulation in Hangar 2 has finally been completed
  • I have received many anonymous e-mails detailing the deplorable conditions of some the buildiings at the airport. Now it has been confirmed in the minutes that the building that houses Amity is in "severe disrepair". The ARFF building, not sure which one that is, also has "some heating issues", which I translate as no heat.

The thing that really is bothering me right now is how did these buildings (assets of the City of Worcester) get into such bad shape?

December 12, 2007

2nd Blog Interview

That is right our 2nd blog interview coming soon from Tom Bona of the Rockford Register, pictured on the left.

December 11, 2007

Rockford Miles Ahead

I am sorry, but here goes again Tom Bona and the Rockford Register and the Rockford Airport Miles Ahead Program. This is what you call thinking out of the box, we should have spent monies from the DOT Small Community Air Service Grant on a program like this not on IMG. Here is a small part of the story:

In the latest promotion at the airport, travelers who buy tickets in person Tuesday and Wednesday for select dates will get between $36 and $100 cash back for each ticket.Travel must be between Thursday and March 31. There are certain blackout dates on each of the airport’s six regular routes.Travelers must be a part of the airport’s MilesAhead rewards program. They can join at the airport by providing an e-mail address. If they don’t have an e-mail address, airport staff will help them get one through free sites such as Yahoo! or Gmail.

December 09, 2007

Airport Director Waldron

Seriously when was the latest time anyone has heard anything or seen from out $106,000 per year Airport Director?

Look at an airport like Rockford, who was in a similar situation after 9/11 with no commercial service in close proximity to a major airport-Chicago. One of the main reasons Rockford has had the success that they have had is that they have an airport director that is constantly selling the benefits of RFD. As a direct result, RFD is looking at 215,000 passengers this year, which is 215,000 then ORH.

No matter who runs ORH in the future, we really need a dynamic Airport Director like RFD's Bob O'Brien.

Mesa a WInner at Rockford

Some things are beginning to get very consistent. First, Mr Nemeth has stopped writing about ORH. Second, we can depend on a weekly story from blog friend Tom Bona of the Rockford Register telling us how great RFD is doing. Here is part of the latest story:

Allegiant Air’s Phoenix/Mesa service started Nov. 16, and outbound planes were on average 94 percent full.It was “virtually a two-run homer for Chicago Rockford International Airport and Allegiant Air, which is truly a compliment to everyone from the airline to the airport and especially the community as a whole,” Bob O’Brien, executive director of the airport, said today.Passenger service has increased 26 percent year-to-date.

With Allegiant’s service to Fort Lauderdale beginning Dec. 14 and Apple Vacations’ weekly charter service to Cancun returning Dec. 29, the airport could reach 215,000 passengers for the year. That would be its second-best year, behind the 221,000 in 1991.

December 07, 2007

Cape Air in Rutland, Vt

Doing great according to the Rutland Herald. There is no reason Cape Air should not be flying shuttle from ORH to Boston with a JetBlue code sharing. Here is part of the story, check out the round-trip prices!!

NORTH CLARENDON — A month into the start of its Rutland to Boston service, Cape Air is proving more popular than previous carriers that served Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport."Passenger-wise, they're looking good," airport manager Thomas Trudeau said. "They're full or nearly full."Trudeau said the nine-passenger Cessnas used by Cape Air routinely have six, seven or eight passengers.

The previous two commuter airlines employed passenger planes that often were empty or near empty.Trudeau said that unlike the previous airlines, Cape Air's low fares are attracting passengers. The one-way Rutland-to-Boston fare with a 14-day advance reservation is $47.50 or $95 roundtrip."I've had more calls and more interest than we've had with the past two carriers," he said.Cape Air's first month has not been without problems. There have been several weather-related cancellations or delays.

December 05, 2007

Allegiant Update

- Allegiant Air LLC, a division of Allegiant Travel Co., said its November traffic jumped 64.5 percent, aided by a large capacity boost and more departures.

The company, which flies travelers from small cities to Las Vegas and other leisure destinations, reported late Tuesday that monthly scheduled-service traffic soared to 274.5 million revenue passenger miles from 166.9 million revenue passenger miles in the previous year. A revenue passenger mile is an industry unit measuring one paying passenger flown one mile.

Capacity surged 62.3 percent to 348.1 million available seat miles from 214.4 million available seat miles in the year-ago period. Load factor, a measure of occupancy, edged up to 78.9 percent from 77.8 percent. Departures climbed 65.7 percent to 2,533 from 1,529.

December 04, 2007

Rockford's O'Brien

Check out the Airport Director's new contract on the Rockford Register by our friend Tom Bona. Imagine a contract based on performance?? From where I am sitting he deserves every penny of his base contract and any bonuses that he achieves.

I truly believe if we had a dynamic airport director like a Bob O'Brien at ORH things would be much different at ORH today. It really is a shame that the lack of effective management will end up forcing us to give up the airport. Has anyone seen our 20 year Master Plan yet?

In case you are wondering our Airport Director makes 106,370 according to the Boston Herald. In essence Rockford has Randy Moss as their Airport Director and we have Ricky Williams.

November Board Meeting

They have not been printed to date so evidently there was no meeting in November.

December 02, 2007

Linear Air and Nemeth

Every Sunday, I walk to get the newspaper come in and read Bob Nemeth's article, although it is sometimes a pain to find the Insight Section, even before Nick or Diane. Each week I hope for a story on the airport, but there are none?

For a couple years, we have targeted Linear Air on this blog with their headquarters at Hanscom Field, owned by our partner and potentially future owner of ORH , Massport. Currently their business model is similar to Cape Air with Cessnas with alot more emphasis on private charters, while waiting for the new Very Light Jets (VLJ) to become available.

Just this week, Linear become the first airline in the Northeast and third in the nation to start flying a VLJ, the Eclipse 500. Read the article in the Herald here. ORH should be talking with Linear to have one of the ten Eclipse 500's by the end of 2008 based here.