Regional Airport Pitches Delta Airlines

Regional Airport Pitches Delta Airlines
May 20, 2011 6:48 a.m.
By George Nelson
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A proposal is on its way to Delta Airlines regarding the possibility of establishing daily service between Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and Detroit.

Delta requested the proposal, which is expected to include a $2 million annual guarantee for the first two years of any service to help cover its expenses, said airport aviation director Dan Dickten. The proposal follows a letter-writing campaign by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber to urge four passenger carriers, including Delta, to consider establishing daily service to various destinations from the airport.

The regional airport is seeking three daily flights weekdays and two on Saturday and Sunday to Detroit using a 50-seat regional aircraft, Dickten said.

“Delta, like all other airlines, is going to require a revenue guarantee from us,” he said. In the event ticket sales do not cover the cost of the route, the airline would draw down on the fund.

“In the event that ticket sales are higher, we would get a credit in that amount,” Dickten added.

“There’s probably 50 or so cities out there being served using this minimum revenue guarantee program,” he said. Akron-Canton Airport had established a $7 million revenue guarantee fund, which it never had to draw on, when it brought in AirTran Airways

Dickten said he won’t delve into fund-raising until he gets a clearer expression of interest on Delta’s part. “And they’re not the only interested airline,” he added. “US Airways is interested in a similar proposal from us for service to Philadelphia and we’re still talking to United with respect to service to Washington, D.C., and/or Chicago.”

Additionally, he will be meeting with several airlines at next month’s Airports Council International’s Jumpstart conference, which is being held in Cleveland .

The letters from the chamber members “really got the attention of three of the four airlines that the letters were sent to and we’re getting some real good responses to those letters,” he said.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Western Reserve Port Authority, which governs the airport, Dickten reported he attended Allegiant air’s meeting in Las Vegas last week. The airline, which provides service to leisure destinations from Youngstown-Warren, is discussing whether to add flights to Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers in Florida “and of course Las Vegas, where everybody wants to go,” he said. “We are trying to get on the next 757 aircraft that Allegiant has acquired.

Youngstown-Warren offers “the second-lowest overhead” of all the airports Allegiant serves and profit margins from its service here are good, he said. “We’re a very strong airport in the eyes of Allegiant.”

The port authority voted at its meeting to approve a $2,000 bonus and $1,000 in moving expenses for Dickten, who was hired a year ago.

Dickten has “cleaned up a lot of items hanging out there for a while and restructured a lot of leases,” and the airport is seeing increased revenues, said Scott Lynn, port authority board chairman. “So we felt like it was appropriate.”

Copyright 2011 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio

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