WARREN - Efforts to raise money to help attract local daily flights will pick up this week as a nonprofit community group takes its request to Warren and Youngstown city councils, beginning today.
YNG Air Partners and representatives of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna are hoping to raise at least $400,000 to help ensure profitability of an airline.
United Airlines has been meeting with local airport and economic development officials about the possibility of startup service with twice-daily connector flights to Chicago O'Hare Airport.
The money would be used to supplement a $1.2 million federal Small Community Air Service Development grant that includes a $420,000 local match from the Western Reserve Port Authority.
Predictions indicate it would take six to 12 months for startup service to become profitable. The grant and local funds would act as a revenue guarantee during startup.
In addition to financial support, the airport is seeking answers to a survey about travel habits from local organizations and frequent travelers. The survey can be taken online at www.YNGairport.com or at the airport's Facebook page, Dickten said.
Airport survey information
Raw data from 711 respondents to date of a Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport survey indicates:
82 percent say a quarter of their business travel needs could be achieved via Chicago O'Hare.
55 percent said at least half of their business travel could be reached via O'Hare.
25 percent use Pittsburgh International Airport the most; 24 percent use Cleveland Hopkins; and 23 percent most use Akron / Canton.
65 percent said they would be "very likely" to utilize YNG, even if the cost was $50 more per round trip than at other airports.
Source: Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport
While more than 700 responses have been received, airport officials are encouraging some who encountered electronic difficulties to return to the site. Some people were unable to complete the survey because of what Dickten described as "glitches."
Results showing what demand might be will be provided to United Airlines. Travel information is being collected from Youngstown-Warren area; Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania; and Ashtabula County.
Warren Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-at large, suggested the city provide $30,000 to the project because she sees successful daily flights as a great marketing tool for Warren in attracting new business.
"Other communities in Trumbull and Mahoning counties will follow our lead," Rucker said.
Rucker is proposing the funds come from the downtown rental fund or from profits being earned by renting out the first floor of the former Gibson building.
Mayor Doug Franklin is forwarding a letter to United Airlines expressing his support. The letter, however, will not yet pledge financial support.
"This could be an important economic tool, not only for the city, but for the county," he said.
Also invited to Warren's meeting are the mayors of Niles and Girard, as well as trustees from Warren Township, Vienna and other Trumbull communities.