Airport board fires air-service consultant

Airport board fires air-service consultant

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just one day after an announcement of expanded airline flights for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, the Western Reserve Port Authority voted unanimously to fire a consulting firm it was using to try to attract more air service.
At the recommendation of the authority’s aviation committee, the board terminated its contract with the Sixel Consulting Group, Eugene, Ore., which it hired in 2008.

Atty. Dan Keating, authority legal counsel, said termination was not based on nonperformance issues.
“We think there are other opportunities out there for companies to help us solicit legacy and regional carriers,” said Scott Lewis, chairman of the committee that recommended ending the authority’s relationship with Sixel. “There are business entities out there that can help us bring carriers here.”
Dan Dickten, airport aviation director, said Sixel had made presentations and provided other services on behalf of the authority. Dickten said he did not have the amount of fees paid to Sixel immediately available, but Keating estimated it as “a few thousand dollars since we only paid for their expenses.”

Dickten said Sixel had no involvement with Allegiant Air, which Tuesday announced it was adding flights from Youngstown to the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport starting Nov. 17.
Dickten said Tuesday that presentations have been made to several airlines about service to Chicago, Washington and Detroit. He did not disclose which carriers had been contacted.
Authority members also heard a plea for help for the future of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station from Lt. Col. Mark Ables, director of operations, 773rd Military Airlift Squadron.

“We are very concerned about remaining viable now and in the future,” Ables said.
The officer said that more missions for the station will help ensure its status in the event the military considers more closings in the future.
Ables said one possibility is development of an engine refurbishing depot that could be used by all military branches. The operations director said there has been no indication that the Air Force is interested in such a facility for Youngstown, but several authority members were supportive.
“That’s an exciting idea because it would be a significant expansion of this facility,” said Andres Visnapuu, board member.
Dickten said he would meet with Ables to look into the suggestion.


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