AOPA is calling on the Cincinnati City Council to hold “full and open” discussion of a reported plan to create a base for a corporate aircraft at Cincinnati Lunken Airport, a proposal that airport tenants worry could displace 45 general aviation hangars from the field.
AOPA is working with the FAA—which would have to approve any land-use changes at the city-owned airport under airport grant agreements—to arrange an onsite meeting on the airport’s future, wrote Bill Dunn of AOPA’s government affairs team, in a Nov. 28 letter to city officials.
“As far as we can determine, the development in question has not been made public knowledge, but tenants have noticed survey crews taking core samples from the area known as the ‘South Line’ and rumors abound. This would indicate early planning stages for construction.
“In our discussions with the airport manager, Fred Anderton, he has indicated he has no detailed information regarding the development other than a concept proposed by Mr. Dan Schimberg to members of the city council,” Dunn wrote.
Schimberg is a prominent real-estate developer in Cincinnati. Airport tenants seeking open communication with city officials about any plans for the airport have formed an organization called the Lunken Airport Action Group.
Dunn noted that over 40 years, private aircraft owners have been pushed off the Lunken Airport property to make way for corporate hangar development, and there is no longer adequate space to replicate T-hangars that could be lost to new development—as would the revenue generated from fuel sales and operations of those aircraft.
AOPA and airport users support aviation-related development at the airport. But Dunn expressed skepticism that the not-yet-public proposal was to be a third fixed-base operation at the airport, as some reports said.
“The developer of this proposed concept, to our knowledge, has no ties to aviation businesses other than owning an aircraft for his own business purposes. We fear this is nothing more than a land grab to construct a facility to house his personal business aircraft and those of potential business partners. We have significant concerns as to whether this third ‘FBO’ would even offer any services for other users of the airport or transient aircraft operators,” he wrote.
Dunn noted that under the airport’s federal grant obligations, the city must follow mandated procedures for gaining approval of land-use changes and construction, “and the city must have a plan to relocate and accommodate the displaced hangars and tenants. Part of this FAA process requires involving stakeholders of the airport.”
Those stakeholders include the current members of the airport community who purchase fuel, provide flight instruction, host a very active flying club, and use their aircraft in support of education initiatives, along with personal business use.
Following the loss in 2012 of Cincinnati’s Blue Ash Airport, GA airports with hangar space are becoming rare in the area, leaving Lunken’s tenants concerned about their aircraft storage options, with waiting times for a hangar “measured in years, not weeks or months,” he wrote.