Government

Port Authority Members Raise Concerns About ADI

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The Western Reserve Port Authority’s interim executive director and director of aviation sought to reassure two board members who expressed concerns about Aerodynamics Inc., the carrier that wants to provide service to Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

Martin Loney and John Boccieri raised questions about the fitness of the carrier at Wednesday’s regular meeting of WRPA’s board of directors.

ADI is seeking certification from the U.S. Department of Transportation to permit the carrier to provide scheduled daily service between the Vienna Township airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The department last month issued a show cause order that not only recommended denial of the certification for new service but revocation its existing certification.

“If the DOT has such reservations about this company, maybe we should be having these reservations also,” Loney said.

The federal agency’s concerns center around ADI’s former CEO and owner, Scott Beale, Dan Dickten, the regional airport’s director of aviation for the port authority, noted.

“ADI has very swiftly stepped in and replaced him,” and he is in the process of selling his shares in the company, Dickten said.

Boccieri pointed out that DOT’s correspondence also referenced the failure of ADI’s board members to report the fraud finding against Beale, which raised the department’s concerns over the carrier’s fitness to operate. Dickten noted that ADI’s board members have been replaced as well, with individuals who have been successful in the airline industry.

“We need a success story with respect to a carrier. We can’t let our zeal for a success story be a detriment to us achieving success,” Boccieri remarked.

“If this has shown us anything, it’s shown us the thoroughness of the Department of Transportation in terms of what they go through to vet a company. Obviously they went much deeper than we would be able to go as a local airport,” responded John Moliterno, the port authority’s interim executive director. “They will not allow this airline to fly not just out of Youngstown but out of anywhere unless they fulfill every one of the requests that have been made to them.”

The port authority needs to be careful, he agreed. “We’re not going to jump into anything that potentially could cause any harm to the port authority, this airport or the people in this Valley. We’re doing our due diligence every step of the way,” he assured.

“We don’t want to get blindsided by bad publicity,” Loney cautioned.

The port authority was formed in 1992 to take over the former Youngstown Municipal Airport, now known as Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. The agency’s also operates an economic development division that provides facilitates financing for job-creation projects in the region.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Sarah Lown, senior economic development manager, told the board this division will embark on a new initiative next week to build capacity for local communities,. Using volunteers, the division will build a “community tool box” to create database sets that local governments can use to secure grants and other funding.

“We want to create a unit within the economic development division to help the community go after moneys from Columbus and [Washington] as much as possible,” Lown said. The region pays more in state and federal taxes than it gets back “so we need to be more proactive about that,” she said. The port authority also can provide technical knowledge for applying for grants, she added.

“The port authority is again trying to be creative when it comes to economic development,” Moliterno said. “There are things that we’re able to do under the Ohio Revised code and things we’re not. We have limited staff. What we do is we have expertise within our staff that allows us to get into grants writing and other areas.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.