Feds OK Daily Service at Regional Airport

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The aviation director at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport is targeting April for starting daily service to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport following a final order issued Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The federal agency approved the certificate of public convenience and necessity for Aerodynamics Inc., which has proposed offering daily flights between the Vienna Township airport and Chicago.

“By this order, we find that Aerodynamics Inc. is fit, willing and able to engage in interstate scheduled air transportation of persons, property, and mail using small aircraft,” DOT said in the order issued by Brandon Belford, deputy assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs.

ADI is incorporated in Michigan with a corporate office in Beachwood and an operations office in Kennesaw, Ga.

“Now the real work can begin,” said Dan Dickten, director of aviation for the regional airport. An April 1 start date for the service is targeted.

“An exciting new day for the Youngstown Warren Regional Airport and the Mahoning Valley,” affirmed John Moliterno, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority. The port authority, established by Mahoning and Trumbull counties, operates the regional airport.

DOT’s order Thursday follows the agency’s tentative finding Nov. 30 in favor of ADI, which had applied in December 2014 for the certificate that would permit the carrier to provide daily scheduled service to Chicago O’Hare.

After ADI initially sought the certificate, a civil fraud finding against the company’s owner at the time, Scott Beale, came to light. DOT issued an order that recommended denying the new certificate and also revoking its existing certification. In response, Beale agreed to sell his ownership stake in ADI and resign his executive positions with the company.

In May, Beale, entered into an agreement with ADI Acquisition LLC to purchase the company. ADI Acquisition is owned equally by John and Janet Beardlsey, who also own 80% of the voting interests in SeaPort Airlines through a holding company, Janair LLC.

Subsequently, federal regulators requested additional documents and information before issuing a show cause order Nov. 30 “tentatively” finding for ADI’s request. During a comment period that followed, James Paquette of Warrenton, Va., and Via Airlines Inc., claimed that ADI Acquisition Co. had defaulted on a $400,000 promissory note, raising a “major red flag” as to ADI’s fitness.

A month later, ADI responded that the objection was moot because the note had been paid in full and claimed that it was filed against ADI in retaliation for ADI fling and obtaining relief in a federal lawsuit involving Via Airlines for, among other issues, breach of contract.

On Jan. 5, Via and Paquette filed a response claiming that ADI’s answer “failed to address the underlying issue that the company is continuing its pattern of non-compliant behavior.” They also said the promissory note had not been paid in full before  ADI’s filing with DOT and did not include outstanding legal fees and collection costs. In filings Jan. 6 and 11, ADI reported that the payment issues had been resolved.

In its order, DOT said that “despite the objections raised by [Via and Paquette] regarding ADI’s failure to disclose financial information that could impact the availability of financial resources needed” to meet DOT’s financial fitness test, ADI provided evidence “that it has access to sufficient financial resources” from its owner to support the proposed scheduled operations. The carrier also “adequately resolved the issue” regarding the note due to the objectors and filed verification of full payment.

“Additionally, as is our practice, prior to making any authority awarded to ADI effective, we will require the company to demonstrate that it continues to have access to the financial resources needed to meet our financial fitness test,” according to the order. DOT “may also request updated financial, operational, or managerial information from the air carrier to conduct a Continuing Fitness Review,” the order stated.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.