Economic Development

WRPA Awaits Word on DOT’s Response to ADI

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Western Reserve Port Authority officials are awaiting word on whether Aerodynamics Inc. will be permitted to provide daily passenger service from the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

Tomorrow is the deadline for the U.S. Department of Transportation to respond to ADI’s response, filed last Thursday, to the department’s show cause order that not only denied permission for the company to provide service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport but also questioned its fitness to operate its current service elsewhere.

“It’s a big day for ADI certainly in terms of their future and it’s a big day for us as an airport because we’ll have a better understanding as to whether we’re going to be able to offer flights to Chicago,” says John Moliterno, interim executive director for the Western Reserve Port Authority, which operates the airport.
In response to the show cause order DOT issued last month, Scott Beale, the ADI owner and executive at the center of DOT’s concerns about ADI’s fitness, resigned from his positions with the company and said he would divest his ownership in the company. His shares would be placed in a voting trust in the interim.

“It is our understanding that ADI has completed just about everything that the Department of Transportation has asked them to do,” says Ronald Klingle, chairman of the port authority. “We’re hoping to get some good news sometime in the next few days.”

What news, if any, that comes out tomorrow remains to be seen, according to Moliterno. DOT could issue another show cause order along the lines of its earlier one, stating ADI’s actions aren’t enough, “and it could be the exact opposite,” he explains. The department could also respond in another way about additional steps ADI could take or that it is taking additional time to review the company’s response.

“We can’t second guess the Department of Transportation. They’ve surprised us in the past,” Moliterno remarks.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the port authority’s aviation committee, officials from Winner Aviation, the airport’s fixed base operator, signaled its intent to remain at the airport and upgrade its operations.

Winner, which marked its 20th anniversary Tuesday, proposes building a new two-story FBO facility attached to Hangar 1, which would undergo a “complete refurbishment,” says Neil Gallagher, company president.

“You wouldn’t even recognize it when we’re done. It would be like a brand new facility,” he adds. The new building would include offices for Winner Aviation, which would vacate its space at the north end of the airport terminal, crew sleeping quarters, showers and rest areas, conference rooms and a more elaborate lobby,

The project, which is in its “fetal stages,” Gallagher says, would cost about $4.2 million. The company plans to seek financing through the port authority.

Port authority members and officials say they want to see additional details before committing to providing financing. At Tuesday’s meeting, Gallagher said the company didn’t want to commit to spending money on architectural drawings until financing was committed.

“We need some level of conceptual design” before moving forward, says Dan Dickten, director of aviation for the port authority.

“We need much more in the way of additional details,” Moliterno affirms.

“The port authority will certainly consider working hand in hand with Winner,” he says. “What we need to do now is get down to the real information, the facts — how large a facility they’re looking at, what that expansion will look like, and then we’ll start to talk about what the financing needs of Winner are.”

Winner and airport officials will continue discussions over the month, and update the aviation committee at its next meeting.

Copyright 2015 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.