VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) – After just six weeks of service, flights from Youngstown to Chicago will likely end, leaving a loss of over $100,000 in investments.
Those operating the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport say they never would have entered the deal if they had known it was going to end this way.
“There’s some things that were promised to us, I’m afraid, that didn’t turn out as we were told,” said John Moliterno with the Western Reserve Port Authority.
On Wednesday, members of the Port Authority voted to stop paying subsidies to Aerodynamics, Inc. (ADI) and its operator, Great Lakes JetExpress.
Many of the 50 planes took off with less than 20 passengers on board, and even fewer were flying beyond O’Hare Airport.
Although the agreement includes a 90-day provision before the contract can be terminated, Moliterno says his staff is looking at possible ways to breach the contract.
“There’s a variety of different options that we have within that agreement that we’re in the process of pursuing.”
Since air service began July 1, the Port Authority has paid about $362,000 to cover ADI’s expenses. The U.S. Department of Transportation reimbursed two-thirds of that.
“Rather than continue to lose money, on either our part or the airline’s, it means we would shorten that time frame and end the relationship, would also…lessen the losses that we have,” Moliterno said.
The local share is coming from a fund of about $420,000 that includes money from a number of sources, such as hotel bed taxes collected in both Trumbull and Mahoning counties.
Commissioners say they would like to learn more about what went wrong.
“We’re going to be meeting with our members very soon and find out. Maybe next time we should just take a deep breath and see the longevity of these investments because it is our money,” said Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti.
Although the Port Authority is out at least $120,000 on the agreement, other local leaders defended the loss as a necessary expense.
“I don’t think a lot of companies anywhere are moving to an area just because they’re being lured,” said Youngstown Mayor John McNally.
There could still be a bright side to the situation, though. Moliterno says he is already receiving inquiries from other carriers who have seen what’s happened with ADI and are now expressing at least some interest in coming here themselves.