Council approves Legacy Funds for direct airline service

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne Airport wants to bring an airline to Fort Wayne that will fly directly to a major hub in the Northeast. It will be a $2 million investment for a two year agreement.

The airport is asking for a $600,000 contribution from the city as one of its many investors. Legally, the airport cannot solely fund one particular airline to operate out of Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne City Council members voted Tuesday evening to use Legacy Funds and County Economic Development Income Taxes (CEDIT). The Council will provide $150,000 each year from the Legacy Fund, and the remaining $300,000 will be from CEDIT.

An original proposal which did not pass asked Council to contribute all $600,000 from Legacy money.

“I don’t want to use Legacy money to underwrite someone’s operating budget,” Councilman Tom Smith said.

Council members said Legacy dollars are supposed to be used for programs that will help better the community. However, they voted for the compromise of reducing Legacy dollars in this particular investment with the agreement that guidelines will be written for future Legacy requests.

Some concerned citizens said they were worried about the money being a handout to the airlines, but airport officials said it creates an incentive to bring the business to the city. The money will be used to provide a minimum revenue guarantee to the airline in case the flights aren’t well-received.

“If people come and they get on the airline, and the airline is operating from day one, we will never have to draw on this fund,” Scott Hinderman, the Executive Director of Airports, said.

Airport officials are working to get either United Airlines or US Airways and American Airlines to come to Fort Wayne. They are looking at operating two round trip flights a day to either Newark, which is just outside New York City, or Philadelphia. Officials said this will help grow the economy in the city while also helping travelers by saving time and money.

The airport has all of the money it needs committed to this investment. The next step will be focusing on getting the airlines traveling to Fort Wayne.

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