RNC Brings Little Traffic to Regional Airport

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The Republican National Convention so far has drawn far fewer flights than anticipated at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

Winner Aviation, the FBO at the Vienna Township airport, has handled about half a dozen aircraft flying into Cleveland for the GOP convention since it started Monday, said Neil Gallagher, president.

“It’s been light, but we’ve had some flights,” he acknowledged. “In fact, we just released one here a few minutes ago.” He expects to handle another half-dozen GOP-related aircraft though the remainder of the convention, which ends tomorrow.

The figure is much lower than local officials had expected when it was announced in January that Youngstown-Warren would be one of two entry airports for aircraft flying into Cleveland for the RNC. Aircraft flying from the East and South flying were expected to stop at Youngstown-Warren for Transportation Security Administration screenings.

“We were expecting maybe 50 or 60 additional aircraft just based on the count at other airports near previous RNCs events,” Dan Dickten, aviation director at the regional airport, said.

Winner Aviation was prepared if the airport got “slammed” with aircraft flying in for the convention, Gallagher said. “We knew that it was going to be somewhat of a gamble so we prepared as best as we could without creating a lot of expenditure,” he remarked.

Dickten said the airport also didn’t incur any major expenses related to the convention.

“We’re not losing any money. We’re just not making any additional,” he said. The airport receives about 1% of Winner Aviation’s gross plus fueling fees. “So we don’t benefit from it as much as the FBO will. We want our FBO to be viable and successful,” he said.

Gallagher speculated that the lower-than-expected number of RNC-related aircraft flying into Youngstown-Warren might reflect attendance for the convention.

Many Republicans remain dissatisfied with the selection of businessman Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee. The party’s 2008 and 2012 nominees, U.S. Sen. John McCain and businessman Mitt Romney are not attending, nor are former President George H.W. Bush or his son, the most recent Republican to win the White House, George W. Bush.

Several current members of Congress and other party leaders also are skipping the Cleveland convention.

“I’m curious to see if turnout for the convention itself is meeting expectations,” Gallagher said.


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