Aviation group wants Ohio lawmakers to fund grants to attract more flights

The Ohio Statehouse
A statue of President William McKinley stands outside of The Ohio Statehouse on Sept. 2, 2011. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Ohio could attract more air service if it allocates $15 million to an air service development grant fund, a representative of the Ohio Aviation Association (OAA) told lawmakers on Friday.

The money would support new international and domestic air service, said Lisa Davala Dalpiaz, director of marketing and air service development at the Akron-Canton Airport. It could also help increase capacity on existing routes.

Attracting airline service is big business for states. After Georgia lawmakers failed to approve a 20-year extension of a jet fuel tax, Delta Air Lines announced it would launch service between John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City and Mumbai starting Dec. 22.

“State incentive grants would be leveraged with matching funds from economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, and communities, who would provide risk abatement funds to air carriers,” Dalpiaz said in prepared testimony.

A total of 19 other states either have an air service incentive program or provide incentive funding on an ad-hoc basis to support new domestic or international air service, Dalpiaz said. Indiana is investing $5.5 million per year for Delta Air Lines service from Indianapolis to Paris, and Pennsylvania is investing $3 million per year for British Airways flights from Pittsburgh and London.

“The central issue for our industry is that competition for new international and domestic air service, which provides significant economic impacts to the State, has increased significantly due to investment of neighboring states in partnerships with air carriers, while Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations restrict the ability of airports to fund air service development partnerships,” Dalpiaz said. “In order to enhance Ohio’s connectivity to the global economy and workforce, it requires further investment in support programs to attract new international and domestic air service.”

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