Monday, February 22, 2010

Lost Nation Airport

Remarks delivered at a public hearing before the Lake County Port Authority and the Commissioners of Lake County, regarding this report.

Lost Nation Airport is an irreplaceable part of the business transportation infrastructure of this area. While the study looks at the profit & loss and payroll of the airport itself, it's not clear whether it examined the secondary economic impact - the increase in productivity for local businesses who use the airport. More than 80% of general-aviation flights are business-related, carrying line managers, technicians, and salespeople.

Here's a typical scenario: You're an account manager for a Painesville manufacturer. Eight o'clock Monday you get a call from your customer in Dekalb, IL. He needs you and an engineer on-site as soon as possible. If you drive, you get there at the close of the business day. Work into the night to solve his problem, drive back the next day. You're gone two days and with IRS milage rates, it's a $500 trip.

You could fly commercial. But by the time you drive from Painesville to Hopkins, park, and convince Security that you don't have a bomb in your BVDs, you've missed the last direct flight to Chicago. Your best option connects through Cincinnati. You get to O'Hare at 3:30. By the time you rent a car and drive out to Dekalb, it's the close of business. You don't save any time flying commercial, and the trip costs $1200.

But if you can rent a plane at Lost Nation, you're off the ground by 11:00. You fly direct to the Dekalb Municipal airport. The airlines only serve 250 cities, but there are five thousand local airports across the country. By 2:30 you're solving your customer's problem, instead of cooling your heels with a Cinnabon in Cincinnati. At the close of business, you're wrapping up instead of just arriving. You fly home that evening and you're back at work Tuesday morning. You've saved an entire business day for two key employees, and the cost of the trip is half of what it costs to fly commercial.

Business aviation means business productivity, which means jobs. Now more than ever, the Lake County economy needs the Lake County Airport.