United pulls plans for daily service at airport

VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) – United Airlines announced Monday that it has dropped plans for daily service at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna.

The announcement comes as YNGAir Partners was trying to drum up financial support from local governments and private donors to supplement the airline with a financial “safety net” should they decide to set up service.

The organization was looking to raise about $450,000 to fund the venture. Airport officials secured a $780,000 federal grant and the port authority provided $420,000 in matching funds to lure United Airlines to the Valley.

“There is not a solid business case for starting daily air service at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport,” said a spokesperson for United Airlines.

According to an email United officials sent to airport director Dan Dickten, the airline does not have immediate plans to establish a hub in the Youngstown market. The airline was considering the local airport but talks never went any further.

“United did their due diligence on this. The timing on this is bad right now. The airline has lost a pretty good chunk of money here in the first quarter of 2014, $487 million I believe, so that is a bit hard to take, Dickten said.

The United spokesperson said the amount of money raised by the airport and YNG Air Partners for a revenue guarantee was not enough. United would have needed four times the approximately $1.5 million for a two-year commitment.

“We had a little bit of difficulty establishing what that actual number was with United. Now they’re saying that it’s a lot more than what we had initially discussed,” Dickten said.

Dickten said no actual money ever changed hands. And any pledges, including $100,000 from the Cafaro Foundation, and money from the cities of Warren and Youngstown, will still be counted toward a revenue guarantee he said any airline would want before considering service at Youngstown.

In their e-mail, United officials would not rule out bringing daily service to Youngstown in the future.

“We were a little bit disappointed that we couldn’t move forward with something here in the near future, but they’re not telling us that they’re pulling the plug on this completely. There just isn’t any interest on their part for the very near future,” Dickten said.

To see a copy of the letter from United Airlines, click here.

A meeting is scheduled Wednesday with the Western Reserve Port Authority where more details are expected to be revealed.

“We’re going to put our heads down and we’re going to keep moving towards acquiring scheduled daily service here. We know the community wants it and needs it,” Dickten said.

Dickten said airport officials will present their case again to United Airlines officials at an airport conference in June.

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