NWOAC March Meeting Wrap
The Northwest Ohio Aviation Council held it’s March meeting on the evening of the 28th at Grand Aire. During the meeting, discussions were held on the impact of looming FAA cuts that may cause the Toledo Express ATC tower to close from 12AM until 6AM daily. Due to the high profile nature of this action, the NWOAC was honored to have representatives from Toledo NATCA and Congressman Robert Latta’s office in attendance to share important information. They meeting was also covered by the Toledo Blade (http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2013/03/29/Group-seeks-to-prevent-Toledo-Express-Airport-tower-hour-cuts.html) in an article published on March 29th also followed up with an editorial on April 1st (http://www.toledoblade.com/Editorials/2013/04/01/Toledo-Express-body-blow.html).
The underreported impacts of closing the tower for those six hours every day are the reasons why attention to this matter is important. Should the tower closing move forward it will impact flight coverage below 3000 feet, limit accurate and timely weather updates, negatively impact Air National Guard operation, potential impact to Part 121 air carrier operators that can’t operated into uncontrolled airports, no emergency assistance, and the inability to change ILS on Runway 7-25 if wind direction change occurs. The NWOAC will be publishing a letter pledging support to keep Toledo’s tower fully staffed to ensure these negative impacts don’t harm the Toledo economy nor jeopardize the safety of air traffic through Toledo’s air space. Outside of that high profile discussion item, the meeting also covered other important topics concerning the airport.
Passenger service was reviewed. American, which is currently operated by Chautauqua Airlines, handled nearly 80,000 passengers in 2012. So far for 2013 loads are running on the low end around 60%. The impacts of the US Airways / American Airlines merger were discussed but effects shouldn’t be felt for 18 months. The potential to see additional service was discussed that could be added as soon as later this year or after the merger takes hold. Allegiant Air carrier over 54,000 passengers in 2012 and is currently running an average load factor 92% full for 2013 so far. March is expected to be the highest passenger counter for Allegiant in Toledo and should surpass American for #1 at the airport this year. Charter service also was discussed and pointed out Republic Embraer 190s will be running flights to Atlantic City and Tunica, MS for gambling junkets this year.
Air cargo services covered the positive news that air cargo has started to tick back up since the exit of BAX Global/DB Schenker in 2011. Currently the only schedule cargo carrier is DHL which provides nightly Boeing 767 freighter service to both Minneapolis and Cincinnati. A special note was made in regards to the Port Authority’s annual budget indicating a forecast income of $750,000 for air cargo operated by BX Solutions. BX Solutions is the company started by local former employees of BAX Global and currently occupies the former BAX hub facility. All current cargo traffic through BX is main carried through a growing ground/trucking network. It was decided that this line item is more an indication of potential should BX decide to instate air services that they have rumored since opening.
A representative from the Port Authority was on hand to discuss the impacts of the Joint Economic Development District setup around Toledo Express Airport. The JEDD will place an income tax on those working at the airport and at businesses that are part of the district. The agreement states that 55% of all revenue is immediately assigned to the airport. On top of that, the portion that would normally go to the City of Toledo will be returned and used at the airport as well. This means that nearly 70% of all tax revenue from the airport will be utilized by the airport. Those that currently pay income tax, and work at the airport, would see their portion of tax moved to the airport fund. The funds will be utilized for economic development at the airport such as assisting new business that want to build a hangar.
Other topics discussed included the upcoming runway construction and additional regional events. The construction will begin May 14th and will divide the runway into thirds to ensure air services isn’t negatively impacted. During mid-August, the entire runway will be closed as the middle portion is rehabbed and will run for 3 weeks. Airline operational impacts will be minimal as Allegiant is on its typical seasonal break during that time and American will be able to use Runway 16-34. The Air National Guard during this time will relocate to Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton. Upcoming events included the ORBAA OBATS on April 17 in Columbus, the Ohio Aviation Conference on April 16 and 17th in Columbus, and also establishing the date for the next NWOAC meeting which is tentatively set for June 27th.