EDITORIAL: Winging it won't work at Gary airport

2013-12-20T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Winging it won't work at Gary airport nwitimes.com
December 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Now that a partner has been chosen for Gary/Chicago International Airport, the new urgent task is to figure out what the best prospects are for the airport.

The airport has been criticized often as a failure because it has not yet been able to deliver on earlier dreams of hosting a number of airlines offering regularly scheduled passenger service.

Airlines have come and gone, and for a variety of reasons. That shouldn't doom the airport, however. What it should do is prompt a serious review of the airport's options.

Now that Aviation Facilities Co. Inc., of Dulles, Va., has been chosen as the airport's privatization partner, the deal must be finalized by the year's end or soon after.

Then the strategy for the airport's future must be determined.

Under the the terms of the airport development deal, AFCO would have to attract at least $25 million in investment in the airport and nearby properties within three years. If it fails, the Airport Authority could halve the length of the 40-year contract.

AFCO is also required to draw up a master plan within a year. It must include a 10-year action plan aimed at achieving $100 million investment at the site over the length of the 40-year contract.

The company has a lot at stake in the Gary airport deal. But so does Northwest Indiana. This airport promises to be a major economic engine for the region.

But before that happens, a strategy must be put in place.

Not every airport has to have regularly scheduled airline service to be considered successful.

If that's in the cards, fine. If a cargo future makes more sense, pursue that option. Do what makes the most sense for this location. Plan carefully, because just winging it won't work.

But hit the ground running, then get the airport off the ground.

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