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March 8, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
The future of Ohio’s Cincinnati-Blue Ash Airport remains uncertain, but Blue Ash municipal officials who met with AOPA have expressed willingness to consider proposals that could keep the general aviation facility operating despite a closure threat from Cincinnati.
With the airport no longer obligated by federal improvement grant agreements, Cincinnati was reported in late 2011 to be eyeing an airport sale, and using proceeds to fund nonaviation purposes. That would clash with assurances provided to AOPA last year--and it has already triggered FAA warnings against diverting airport revenue outside the airport system. Cincinnati and Blue Ash each owns approximately half of the airport land.
In a series of meetings March 1 through 3 with pilots and municipal officials, AOPA Vice President of Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn reiterated the case for keeping the GA reliever airport running.
Blue Ash Mayor Mark. F. Weber and City Manager David Waltz said they have always supported the continued operation of the airport and are willing to listen to possible courses of action, Dunn said. The meeting with the Blue Ash leaders was hosted by Bob Ready, president and CEO of LSI Lighting, an aircraft owner/operator at Blue Ash Airport and one of the largest employers in Blue Ash. A presentation to the full city council by local airport supporters is planned and will include a detailed business plan for the city’s review.
Dunn also met at Cincinnati City Hall with Cincinnati Council members Christopher Smitherman and Charles Winburn. “They both believe that Cincinnati should divest itself of Blue Ash Airport and allow Blue Ash to operate the airport,” Dunn said. “They would like to see the airport remain open.”
The council members told Dunn that they plan to introduce a resolution “calling on the City of Cincinnati to sell the airport after an appropriate property appraisal is completed to value the land as an airport rather than highest and best use.”
The mayor and city manager of Cincinnati had not responded to numerous requests to meet. It remained unclear whether Cincinnati would offer Blue Ash the opportunity to acquire the rest of the airport property, or at what price, Dunn said.
An update on the status of the current situation was also provided to local flying clubs the Flying Neutrons, based at Blue Ash Airport, and the Flying Knights, based at Lunken Airport.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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