Stark OKs Aid to Akron-Canton Airport Airline Fund

Stark County commissioners have approved a contribution of $50,000 to the fund to start or restore non-stop airline service to Akron-Canton Airport.

The money will be overseen by the Stark Development Board and comes on top of at least $200,000 committed to the Commercial Air Service Restoration Program by other local governments in Summit and Stark counties since October.

Akron-Canton Airport President and CEO Ren Camacho that thus far no airline has agree to resume or begin new service to the airport.

He expects that won’t happen until the air travel market recovers further from a steep decline it suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic that led to massive flight cancellations across the country.

“We’re talking to all of the airlines at this point,” Camacho said. “Any airline that provides an opportunity to any markets lost to COVID, that’s who we’re talking to this point. We’ve had some good conversations with some of the airlines but no commitments yet from their end.”

He said any new or restored service will depend on the route, the frequency of service to be operated and the size of the aircraft to be used on the route.

Once the pandemic has been tamed Comacho expects airline travel to take off due to pent up demand.

The air service would act as a backstop for any initial losses or startup costs. An airline would receive up to a negotiated amount of what it lost serving the route.

Aside from local governments, the fund is receiving funding from JobsOhio, the state’s economic development entity, which is providing a 4-to-1 match for any locally raised funds.

If an airline makes a profit on a new or restored route, the fund will not pay out anything to the carrier.

In particular, airport officials want to entice Delta Air Lines to resume service to Atlanta.

However, Akron-Canton also lost service to New York (LaGuardia), Washington (Reagan National) and Houston (Bush Intercontinental) during the pandemic.

Camacho said airline traffic at Akron-Canton is about 30 percent of what it was a year ago.

Other government entities that have contributed money to the airline restoration fund include the Summit County Council ($50,000), Green ($50,000), Akron ($30,000), Stark County Port Authority ($25,000), an individual who wishes to remain anonymous ($20,000), Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce ($10,000), Jackson Township ($10,000), and VisitCanton and Akron Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau ($5,000).

Camacho said neither he nor his staff can negotiate with airlines on an agreement. Those talks must be handled by a committee that has yet to be formed.

Members might includes representatives of the Stark Development Board, Canton Regional Chamber of  Commerce or local government officials.

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