Toledo Express Airport has a lot going for it, with fully leased hangars, a new industrial development park rising on the south side, an airport equipment manufacturer, and a busy aviation mechanic that has been able to branch out to Florida.
Where the airport continues to be underutilized is what should be any airport’s bread-and-butter: passenger traffic.
Passenger service at the airport went into a slump after the 2001 terrorist attacks. It was “one gut punch after another,” according to Paul Toth Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.
Since then, efforts to recruit and retain passenger service have begun to pay off. Passenger travel through Toledo Express Airport had its busiest month in a decade in March, thanks largely to a new Charlotte, N.C., service that started last summer.
American Eagle, which already had a route between Toledo and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, added daily round trips between Toledo and Charlotte last year. Allegiant Airlines, the other major carrier in Toledo, also saw a substantial increase in service.
What every airport needs is not only tourist and family travelers, who tend to plan ahead and reserve the cheapest fares, but the business travelers.
Detroit Metropolitan Airport is a tough competitor because Delta Airlines has agreements with corporate clients. Those agreements require loyalty to Delta to such an extent that local customers are reluctant to imperil their discounts by diverting even a single-digit percentage to Toledo Express Airport.
If Toledo wants to have a healthy functioning passenger airport, it’s going to need community support. The port authority is suggesting a commitment of 8 percent from each corporate customer based in Toledo.
The momentum being enjoyed by Toledo now is, to a significant extent, due to the capital investments of one major corporate entity, ProMedica. Other firms in Toledo can help, too, such as by making a commitment to using Toledo Express Airport for a portion of their corporate travel.