EDITORIAL: Airport proposals expected at jet speed

2013-06-13T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Airport proposals expected at jet speed nwitimes.com
June 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Gary/Chicago International Airport has begun seeking proposals for a public-private partnership, looking for an investor with deep pockets who can make the airport's prospects soar.

The request for proposals released last Friday is intended to test the market and to ask potential investors for their best ideas.

That part makes sense. The airport has seen several airlines come and go, with Allegiant Air the latest to announce it would stop offering regularly scheduled service to and from Gary.

When the current runway extension project is completed, the airport will be able to handle planes fully loaded with enough fuel to reach the west coast. That will help the airport better serve future flights.

But getting the airlines to agree to use the airport is vital. What will it take to attract them to Gary?

That's why the airport needs a big investor. It's why retaining ownership of the airport, yet outsourcing operations, is worth investigating.

But the bids are due on Monday, opening a very short window for interested bidders to study the airport materials, come up with ideas and put together a proposal.

Some members of the joint city/airport committee investigating the airport's options expressed concern last Thursday about the tight deadline.

Committee member Al Stanley said the deadline wouldn't be a problem because "the investment community is tuned in."

"They know what they're doing," Stanley said. "They are prepared to respond to us. People around the world are actually emailing us and asking us more questions. Let's not assume the investment community is not tuned in to what we are doing here. They're waiting to respond."

With bids due June 17, just over a week after the request for proposals was issues, there's little time for anyone who wasn't already in the know.

For such a major project, there isn't much time being given to prepare bids. Shouldn't more time be given for the bidders to put more thought into detailed proposals? This seems rushed.

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