Bad move by Warwick City Council on Green

The federal court appeal filed by Warwick City Council to the Federal Aviation Administration plan to expand T.F. Green Airport is not what the doctor ordered for a state with double-digit unemployment and a struggling economy. More

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PBN Editorial

Bad move by Warwick City Council on Green

Posted 12/12/11

The federal court appeal filed by Warwick City Council to the Federal Aviation Administration plan to expand T.F. Green Airport is not what the doctor ordered for a state with double-digit unemployment and a struggling economy.

This latest stalling technique, coming after years of Mayor Scott Avedisian’s challenging the FAA and the R.I. Airport Corporation on the details of the runway expansion and realignment, along with other upgrades to T.F. Green, will accomplish little in terms of changing what does happen.

What it will do, however, is keep the airport from recovering from its four-year slide in passenger traffic. And it most certainly makes the likelihood that short- and long-term job creation will happen at T.F. Green more remote by the day.

The city leaders, even if one assumes they believe in the project but just don’t feel like they have all the information they need, are clearly not attuned to how the hypercompetitive air- transportation business is operating these days.

Companies make decisions based on the numbers, for sure, but they also want to see rational, predictable behavior in the public sphere where they are looking to operate.

So no matter how well T.F. Green is situated in southeastern New England for passenger or freight traffic, it is not the only game in town. Airport Corporation CEO Kevin Dillon says that T.F. Green is already losing ground to other facilities, and the numbers support his position.

A decade of back and forth with Mayor Avedisian certainly has collected all the answers there were to get, leaving only the groundbreaking to come. It is time to stop the delays and start to put shovels in the ground. Anything short of that borders on the criminal.

One final note. Let’s hope that Warwick’s citizens hold the City Council accountable in the next election for its ill-conceived action. •

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richard@langseth.com

Perhaps the Providence Business News should put some business into its news and run the Rhode Island Airport's "spreadsheet."

The people of Warwick have long realized that RIAC is long on dreams and short on funding. It is now spends almost half of its revenue on debt service with rating agencies reminding it that it cannot borrow one dollar more without impacting its debt rating. Since RIAC is a state agency it is prevented from executing a borrowing program that degrades its bond rating. This is called the debt ceiling regulation that the General Treasurer must enforce.

All businesses get this point. When a business borrows knowing that its bond rating will suffer it is generally recognized that this kind of behavior is an act of desperation.

Don't forget, the airlines pay for runway improvements through increases in landing fee charges. RIAC increased its landing fees by almost 20% this past year. USAir cut its landing weights by over 20% in October. This means fewer flights and more use of turbo props and regional jets.

The more you increase landing fees the fewer flights and passenger seats you will see operating out of Green. Is there any mystery to this?

I don't think any Warwick City Council member is in any danger of losing the next election because he or she asked the FAA to review its own decision on a EIS paper developed by an outside consultant. I do believe that City Council members might be held accountable if they flip flop and allow RIAC to continue to threaten to destroy neighborhoods with no -- absolutely no -- funding to fuel the bulldozers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | Report this
stratg

Please re-title

Bad move by State of RI and RIAC

Good move by Warwick City Council or

Why: The editorial statement "not what doctor ordered for a state with double-digit unemployment and a struggling economy." such a doctor would be found guilty of malpractice. Unless they are in the business of taking public funds and funneling them to the construction trades for a 1-3 year benefit in exchange for votes as our governor wants to do. The result leaving lots of long term debt and residential neighborhoods scarred for ever and city tax role reduced forever. All I can say is that anyone who supports an 8,700' runway that's not needed and will create "community disruption" using the term as the FAA described it, and instead doesn't support a more reasonable runway length that meets the airports needs and costs less, is governing irresponsibly as our governor is. We need to reduce costs and expenditure that aren't needed not increase them.

The editorial supports spending public monies for projects that are not needed and increase public debt and RIAC's debt coverage ratios are already risky. Any seasoned financial manager knows what happens when an organization has lots of fixed debt, has declining debt coverage ratios, would not support such a project. This kind of spending of public funds is not justified and smacks of allowing a state agency to operate out of control with false forward looking statements that should have its leaders and board charged with SEC violations.

Rhode Islanders, the General Assembly, and media need to understand that an 8,700' runway is not needed to fly non-stop to the west coast due to changes in technology in aircraft design. Also, the airport has made additional claims on need that are in conflict with aircraft manufacturer performance data.

Now, if you were CEO of a company with lots of fixed debt, reduced debt coverage ratios, your sales were down, playing with public money, would you advocate floating additional bonds that could sink the ship? Well the governor and RIAC and the construction trades are wanting to do just that, put the state of Rhode Island's credit rating down a notch and increase the borrowing costs of the state, then our governor can hit us with more tax increases. Rhode Islanders have been misled again.

TF Green is not a well managed airport. Well managed airports don't build unneeded infrastructure and create a burdensome debt structure as RIAC has done. Those costs are passed on to travelers and the airlines, make the airport less attractive to passengers and the airlines.

Well, PBN had one thing right in the recent article about Southwest Airlines discontinuing service from PVD to PHL. It had nothing to do with the runway length and all to do with reduced levels in the general economy.

If you believe the airport's BS on why they claim they need an 8,700' runway and that extending it will rescue the state economy then you deserve to help pay the state's portion when they can't pay the bonds back or instead re-finance adding to the interest costs.

Let's face it, overspending of public money and creating public debt that can't be paid back is what brought the economy down, and RIAC and the governor are advocating to do more of the same here.

The problem with the RI economy is not the length of the runway. They could build a 20,000' foot runway and its not going to make a difference. RI has lost manufacturing industries, a navy base, has high energy costs, reputation of the 48-50th worst state to do business in, a history of favoritism to politically connect business over more competitive businesses, and more, the runway is not going to fix those problems.

To add credit to the City Council, a reminder to all that the City Council's primary role is to protect the health, safety, and property value preservation of its constituents. For anyone who's read the FAA Record of Decision, they'd know there are "significant impacts" and for those who read one of the mayor's last comment letter, he requested supplemental analysis and that was refused. As for saying all questions were answered by the FAA, well they disclosed there will be significant impacts and it is likely they cannot afford to mitigate damages. Would you allow your constituents to be damaged like that?

I have a solution: Taxpayers from around the state can chip in the extra #100mm+ that will be needed for mitigation, and then when RIAC has funneled the bond money to the construction trades and RIAC can't pay it's debt, taxpayers around the state can pay for that too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 | Report this
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