The Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority has landed a $600,000 federal grant to help lure an airline to provide a new flight between Fort Wayne and a hub airport somewhere in the northeastern United States.
The grant comes from the Small Community Air Service Development Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Jessica Miller, air service and community relations manager for the airport authority, said Thursday that the money can be used only to help provide a “revenue guarantee” to an airline that agrees to operate flights to a northeastern hub.
“Most airlines require the airport or the community to share the risk” of opening a new route. Miller said she doubts that the $600,000 grant will cover the entire cost of such a revenue guarantee, but she won’t have a good sense of what the guarantee would cost until the airport authority actually moves into talks with airlines. “I’ve seen airports across the country offer in the millions,” she said.
Funding a revenue guarantee likely will compel the airport authority to raise funds from another source, such as economic development money, she said. A revenue guarantee probably would cover only the first year or two of a new flight being offered here, she said.
Miller also said the airport authority hasn’t pinned down a top choice for a hub to which it would like direct flights. Airports near New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are frequent requests airport officials hear from travelers, she said.
Although many federal expenditures are blocked by the partial government shutdown that began last week, Miller said the airport authority received word that it had won a grant in late September, before the shutdown. Fort Wayne was one of only 25 U.S. airports that shared $11 million in grants distributed through the federal program.