Enplanement numbers down at MOV Regional Airport
New tree-topping bid approved
WILLIAMSTOWN — Passenger numbers at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport decreased in April.
Enplanements for the airport’s service by Via Air totaled 292, down 34 from March and 59 from April 2017, airport Manager Glen Kelly said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Wood County Airport Authority.
“These are supposed to be our good months, our great months. So that’s a little disappointing,” Authority President Bill Richardson said.
Tuesday’s meeting was scheduled two weeks later than usual so the board could consider new bids to top trees on neighboring property to meet a Federal Aviation Administration requirement to remedy obstructions by October.
While Via’s flight completion rate from November to February was 94.5 percent and the rate for March — minus two weather-related cancellations — was 90 percent, April saw just an 80 percent completion rate, Kelly said. The primary culprit was heavy maintenance on one of Via’s aircraft, but Kelly said he believes a schedule change creating a six- to seven-hour wait between Sunday flight connections from the local airport to Florida may have contributed.
“There’s a big layover on Sundays,” he said. “Nobody wants to sit in Charlotte (Douglas International Airport) for a day on their first day of vacation.”
Kelly said he’s addressed the issue with Via officials and they mentioned the possibility of direct service between the Mid-Ohio Valley and Orlando Sanford International Airport under a new federally subsidized Essential Air Service contract. The current two-year contract is up at the end of September and bids are due by June 5.
But Kelly said that service would likely be on a 50-seat jet and while there is demand, he’s not sure the airport could sustain that service and remain below the $200-per-seat EAS subsidy cap.
So far, Kelly said, he’s received inquiries about the EAS contract from a handful of companies. He anticipates at least one bidder besides Via.
“I hope I can get a third bidder,” he said. “I just think competition helps.”
The board voted 4-0, with one member absent, to accept a tree-topping bid of $44,800 from Straight Up Tree Service. During a special meeting in April, the board rejected a bid of $100,000, the only qualified offer it received, and Kelly put the project out for bid again.
Airport officials had hoped to spend less than $30,000 on the project, Kelly said. The 90 trees to be addressed on property adjacent to but not owned by the airport is a higher number than anticipated, he said.
“I hate to recommend to vote for it but I’m going to recommend voting for it,” Kelly said, citing the safety concerns and mandate from the FAA.
“(We’ve) got to do it, I think,” authority member Terry Moore said.
The bid does not include trimming or removing trees on the airport’s property or the nearby Veterans Park. Wood County will provide funds to assist with the work in the park, Kelly said.
In other business, Kelly updated authority members on efforts to improve the appearance of the airport, including painting fixtures, relining parking lots and adding new furniture in the waiting and arrival area for corporate plane crews and passengers in the General Aviation building.
“This is a gateway,” he said of the airport. “We should try to make it look as good as we can afford.”