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Friday, October 16, 2009

Angle: Lehigh Valley Airport Run Like Private Country Club

Ron Angle, the Northampton County Bulldog, believes a well-run local airport is key to this area's economic development. It should be a cornerstone. But at last night's Northampton County Council meeting, he claimed the Lehigh Valley International Airport is a "little bit of a joke."

For one thing, he's always wondered how Hooters, which used to fly out of LVIA, could run up a fuel bill of over $1 million and just walk away. Some prominent local businessmen recently told Angle how that happened.

"The people who exercise a lot of influence in the Valley, the community hierarchy, whatever you want to call them, not the politicians necessarily, but the behind the scenes people; they like the fact that Hooter went to Myrtle Beach, where you could play golf. And they didn't want Hooters to stop going to Myrtle Beach because, quite frankly, they liked going to Myrtle Beach.

"I know in the real business world, if somebody tried to run up a fuel bill, way before they got to $1 million, somebody would say 'Hey, you're not getting any more fuel. You have to ship a payment over here if you want any more fuel.'

"Everybody just shluffed that off. Frankly, the airport is managed like a private country club."

According to Angle, the real problem is George F. Doughty, executive director of the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, which owns the airport. Instead of serving the people of the Lehigh Valley, Angle maintains that Doughty serves a "small segment" of elitists. "He took care of his buddies over at Queen City, who like their private country club little airport over there. That was nice he was able to do that."

"His reward for lousy performance was a new contract."

Angle noted that LVIA recently acquired Southeast, when it should have gone after Southwest. "Delta's been trying to get in, but they have no interest in Delta or Southwest."

County Council member Mike Dowd, who serves on the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, agreed it is poorly managed. "I think the Airport Authority is changing, Ron, and is far more active than it was."

Dowd declined to discuss Doughty's three-year contract, noting it is "inappropriate" to discuss a personnel matter. Angle retorted, "Well, he's being paid by the public, quite frankly, I don't know it's inappropriate to talk about it. His money comes from the Airport Authority, which is a public agency."

Executive John Stoffa agrees that Doughty does set the direction. "People have to decide if the leadership that's there is the leadership that we want. There's a need for some change." Stoffa noted he would not recommend any extension of Doughty's contract. ... I think there should be a clear message that new leadership is desired"

Stoffa asked Angle how he'd improve things. Angle responded, "If you and the Executive in Lehigh, Cunningham, get together on this, and I understand he's been approached, we have the authority to abolish the Authority and re-appoint a new Authority. That's one of the things I think we may do. Maybe we could get a group of good business people to take a look at should we be doing that."


Anonymous said...

Is Ron off his medication again?

Bernie O'Hare said...

He was on a roll last night, but a lot of people in both counties agree with him on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Why do we even have an airport? Every time I want to fly I have two options: pay more and take a puddle jumper to Philly or pay less and drive to Philly and get on the same plane.

Anonymous said...

Every time I drive past the beautiful ABE (and it is one of the nicest airports anywhere) on my way to catch a flight from PHL or EWR at half the price, I shall think of Angle's request of John Stoffa. Angle was clearly hitting on all cylinders last night.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:54, enough already, Carol

Carol said...

Anonymous 6:54, just publish your name, I forgot to mention that, Carol

LVCI said...

Irregardless of the airport's worth or non worth. Where's the oversight? This is not the 1st time they got stiffed at the pump by an airline's insolvency.

Although The airport claims it is "entirely funded by user fees; no property tax dollars are used for the airport’s capital improvements or for its day-to-day operation".. taxpayers were on the hook for..

2009 (Feb)- A $3M Grant from Governor Ed Rendell for Terminal Renovations

2004 (Aug)- $2.4 million federal reimbursement grant for land it has purchased for potential future expansion.

2004 (Jan)- $ 1 million from the Federal AIRPORT AND AIRWAY TRUST FUND- Various Improvements (H.R. 2673, the FY 2004)

2000 (Oct)- Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church received improvements to the Church sanctuary as part of a project under the Airport Authority's sound insulation program.. FAA funding for the project was provided though grant. The construction modifications performed under the $111,111 budget included the installation of high STC-rated acoustic vinyl frame windows placed over 13 existing stained glass windows in the Church sanctuary, replacement of 2 traditional windows with rated sound insulated windows, acoustical treatments in all roof vents and eaves and an upgraded HVAC system to provide air cooling to the sanctuary.

1997 (Sept)- $3 million federal grant to re-locate the residents of 52 homes in the Williamson Mobile Home Court in Schoenersville


2009 REPORT YTD as of August 2009
Passengers down YTD -45,895 (-8.36% )
Freight/Mail down -10,282,113 (-36.53% )
Aircraft Activity down -15,488 (-17.36%)

Hooters flies its last flight (2006)

LVCI said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Village Idoti said...

I can fly Southwest from the D.C. region (BWI - Baltimore/Washington International Airport, Dulles Airport, D.C.A. - Regan National Airport) to almost anywhere in the countrt. And I can fly it at a competitive and inexpensive rate.

But I can't fly it to an airport (L.V.I.A. - A.B.E. - Queen City -Braden's Airport, or whatever it is called) that is less than a twenty minute drive to see my family. Why?

When you come to the D.C. region and its three regional airports, the Southwest airline is the most busy. Coming in second are usually Delta and Continental.

The most inexpensive way for me to fly back to the Lehigh Valley is for me to fly Southwest to Newark International Airport. Then take a Greyhound for the remaining portion to the Lehigh Valley. That even beats the bus that goes from Chinatown to Chinatown for $15.00. Chinatown, D.C. to Chinatown, Manhattan, New York for $30.00 round trip.

Peace, ~~Alex

Anonymous said...

Keeping the Queen City Airport for the private use of a hundred or so rich pilots is a misuse of public assets.

Ron is right on this. Consolidate the facilities and free up that property. As a commercial site it would produce significant revenue for the school district an the city of Allentown.

Anonymous said...

Ron don't know waste. John Murtha and his airport fart in Ron's general direction:


Anonymous said...

So Angle has all the answers but needs "good business people" to tell him those answers. The guy is a joke.

Anonymous said...

There must be some former County elected or Administration officials who could be put on the board to keep an informed eye on their nonsense.

Anonymous said...

For once mr hate crime himself is correct which is why you need to appoint new blood to these boards

Anonymous said...

Anon 101, with a legitimate administration you'd be right.

But if Queen City is developed, I'd bet that Pawlowski slaps a KOZ on it. Bang, no tax revenues for the city or school district until 2020 at least. Then we'd be told "he had to do it to provide an incentive, yada yada yada."

Same old same old.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Angle should spend as much time overseeing his buddy Stoffa's administration as he does poking around the Airport.

What a hypocrite.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Part of Angle's responsibility as county councilman is to provide oversight on the suthorities and boards to which council makes appointments. You are criticizing him for doing his job.

These anonymosu personal attacks against Stoffa and Angle actually raise them up in the eyes of the general reader. There is no substance to them, just hate. it lends credence to the general feeling that Stoffa is a man of decency and that Angle fights the forces of corruption, which you obviously represent.