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Why New Terminanl At Columbus Rickenbacker

Thu Feb 28, 2002 8:25 am

For those of you that don't know, construction of a new passenger charter terminal is underway at Columbus Rickenbacker Airport. The airport is currently a Reserve Base and a developing cargo hub located south of Columbus, Ohio. I just saw a special on the local news about the new facility and in my opinion it makes no sense at all to construct.

Right now CMH is by no means a busy airport and is a ghost town for most of the afternoon. Yeah it does handle I believe 7-8 million passengers and has alot of movements mainly due to Executive Jet, why on earth are they building this and better yet why at Rickenbacker? CMH is stagnet right now and HP hasn't really expanded operations there much so if you build this why not at CMH. They can easily handle it in place of cargo traffic which doesn't fly there. Rickenbacker is farther away from downtown and the big suburbs from which most of the people will be coming from and doesn't handle any regularly scheduled passenger service. I listened to opposition and what they are saying makes alot of sense. Right now charter traffic is down and cargo is up. Why not develop the airport around cargo more? Columbus is growing but not even close to the size of a city to operate two passenger airports. Charter traffic is not even that big especially in Ohio. The only charter traffic is sesonal and is going outward rather than into Columbus. Orlando recently has seen growth at their second airport due to charter and we all know alot more people go to Orlando rather than Columbus. What does this mean for other cities with two airports. The first thing I thought of as CLE native is how will this affect other secondary mid-western airports like BKL, St. Louis Mid-America, Detroit City & Willow Run and Cincy Lunken? Is Columbus on to something big or is this a waste of time and money? They are hoping for a minimum of 10,000 pax/year.

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RE: Why New Terminanl At Columbus Rickenbacker

Thu Feb 28, 2002 9:27 am

This whole thing may be part of a "If you build it, they will come" grand vision. But, if CMH is already underutilized, adding a second airport to the region may be a fruitless task, unless you are looking way into the future where it may be nice to have something around like that, ready to go. It never hurts when trying to coax an airline to expand into your market to have airport facilities ready to go for them to use. That and if I'm not mistaken, interest rates are still fairly low so they can get money a lot cheaper than if they waited until a future date.

Many growing areas stop growing because infrastructure is not in place or takes so long to implement that potential avenues of growth just go elsewhere.
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RE: Why New Terminanl At Columbus Rickenbacker

Thu Feb 28, 2002 10:27 am

Look at Sanford in Florida. Sanford is not close to Downtown Orlando by no means but gets many flights of vaction charters and such. They have virtually no cargo market there either but yet they still are growing.

Rickenbacker would be a great airport for a low cost airline to move into. I'm sure they would offer cheaper landing slots and there would be less arrival and departure traffic to keep delays at a min.

I feel it's a great idea.
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RE: Why New Terminanl At Columbus Rickenbacker

Thu Feb 28, 2002 10:52 am

This may be a stupid question, but was this airport named for the late Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, war hero and former President of Eastern Air Lines?
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RE: Why New Terminanl At Columbus Rickenbacker

Thu Feb 28, 2002 12:53 pm

Just look at Mid-America(BLV) airport. It is an alternative to STL. STL can be a real pain some days and BLV STILL is a ghost town.

CMH is dead most of the time and Rickenbaker is a HUGE waste of money.TC
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RE: Why New Terminanl At Columbus Rickenbacker

Thu Feb 28, 2002 1:53 pm

Eddie Rickenbacker was born in Columbus. The airport was formerly known as Lockbourne Air Force Base (hence the code LCK), and the name was changed to the current Rickenbacker International Airport.

Okay, there is a lot behind this new terminal at Rickenbacker, I'll try and put it in a nutshell...

Currently, Rickenbacker serves as an inland port, handling dozens of international cargo flights every week, and has a large sorting facility for FedEx, which acquired the LCK facilities when they bought Flying Tiger. The area is also designated as a foreign trade zone. In addition, the airport is the home base of the Air Force's 121st Air Refueling Wing.

Though the airport is known as one of the most successful sites to have transitioned from being a military base to a commercial center, it still has funding shortfalls. The airport receives a grant from the federal government as aid in transitioning to a cargo hub, as well as subsidies from Franklin County. Since the airport has completed the transition, the government funding will soon end. Franklin County commissioners also want the airport to become self-sufficient, as they have granted over $8 million to the Rickenbacker Airport Authority already.

So the Rickenbacker Airport Authority started to look for a new source of funding, hence the idea to break into the air charter business. The reason the airport is aiming at handling at least 10,000 passengers a year is becuase it would qualify the airport for government funding as a major airport. In addition, the airport would gain revenue from a planned hotel and restaurants that want to build on airport land.

The board of the Rickenbacker Airport Authority worked very quickly to get plans for a new terminal finalized. However, much of this work was done behind the backs of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. When the terminal plans were announced, the board was not very happy, since they would be footing most of the bill for a project that isn't even guaranteed of succeeding. Arguments went back and forth between the airport authority members and the Board of Commissioners. The original $12 million, 4-gate facility was scaled back to a 2-gate facility, and the Board hired an independant group to study a possible merger of Rickenbacker International Airport with Port Columbus International Airport. The Board of Commissioners strongly urged the Rickenbacker Authority to hold construction on the terminal until the study was complete. The Authority waited at first and then went against the board's decision and announced that the new terminal would be built.

So now this is what we have: the new terminal has started construction and should be complete be December of this year. The Franklin Country Board of Commissioners for the most part is supporting the new terminal at Rickenbacker. One member remains strongly opposed to it. The study to merge the CMH and LCK operations is still going on, and the study so far has said that Franklin County could save about $1.4 million combining the two authorities, but would still have to provide subsidies for at least 4 or 5 more years.

Thomacf: Actually, Port Columbus is not stagnant at the moment. The airport is completing work on a 5-gate expansion of Concourse C, and is currently constructing a new 224 ft. control tower and ATC facility. Once the expansion is complete, the airport will still be short on gates, as Delta has already committed to leasing 4 of the 5 new gates. While Executive Jet does account for a sizeable amount of the airport's operations, so does AirNet, which is also based in Columbus. Also, America West did have plans to greatly expand the Port Columbus hub prior to Sept. 11.

You are correct though, much of Columbus' population growth is happening in the Northern metro area around the Franklin/Delaware County line. Rickenbacker is located in the southern part of Franklin County.
You are also correct that Port Columbus could definitely handle an increase in charter traffic. However, Elaine Roberts, the Executive Director of the Columbus Airport Authority, has stated that increasing charter traffic is not a major goal for the airport. Currently, charter service is extremely limited, with only one charter flight every Sunday to Cancun operated by Apple Vacations.

I also agree that more could be done to increase cargo traffic at LCK. I do believe that the airport should have continued to improve and expand through cargo traffic. However, the proposal of the new terminal brought something to the attention of Columbus civic leaders that should have been realized years ago: mergering the operations of Rickenbacker and Port Columbus. This way, both airport would not compete with each other, and both airport would be able to succeed together.

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RE: Why New Terminanl At Columbus Rickenbacker

Fri Mar 01, 2002 11:49 am

First things first, I myself do not see a need for this charter terminal. Other than to make LCK a 'major' airport, I don't really see the point. CMH has ample capacity to handle these extra couple of flights, and CMH is a much more convienient location than LCK. Am I correct in saying LCK wants to do this to secure federal funding? That seems to be the only logical reason.

In response to Columbus not being big enough to handle 2 passenger airports, I agree, however I do not consider a 2-gate charter terminal enough to make LCK a 'passenger airport'. It will bring at most about 40,000 or 50,000 pax/year, which is hardly anything.

I would have to disagree with you Thomas on CMH being a "ghost town" for most of the afternoon. CMH could be busier, but it still handles about 600/ops a day, which is respectable. Not an O'hare by any means, but not exactly a ghost town. I was at CMH today and there were at least 500+ people in line for the security checkpoints, ghost town eh?
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RE: Why New Terminanl At Columbus Rickenbacker

Sat Mar 02, 2002 12:35 am

fyi lck is trying to lure airnet from cmh with better landing fees. this makes no sense at all, both airports are funded by local taxes and now are competing with each other with lower fees, thus deluting the total revenue for the county/city. ah competition at its worse when tax dollars are involved. this is also how they will get charter business. the cmh mayor last night in his state of the city speech called for a merger of cmh and lck

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