Reader Captain Cob sent along this news of Air Lingus screwing Connecticut taxpayers. Or to be more accurate, an account of our naive representatives bending over to receive a full wheel barrow up the rear. I am a huge admirer and fan of Riverside's Scott Frantz, but isn't he in charge of that airport? What gives?
During its first year flying to Dublin, Ireland out of Bradley International Airport, Aer Lingus missed its revenue goal, triggering a $4.5 million subsidy from the state, the Hartford Business Journal has learned.
The payment, which is pending from the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), is part of a $13 million incentive deal inked between state officials and the Irish airline to woo it to Bradley, where flights began in Sept. 2016. Revenue subsidies make up the bulk of the two-year deal, at $9 million, with the rest comprised of marketing incentives and airport fee waivers.
Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, said it's not uncommon for airlines to miss revenue targets built into the deals, which are designed to reduce the financial risks of a new service.
"I think from a revenue guarantee standpoint, this is typical," Dillon said. "You typically find that airlines have to draw on it."
The deal "absolutely" provides value to the state's economy, DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said.
"I think there is a gigantic payback for the state — it creates jobs in the local market and I hear from business travelers who use it that they love to go out of Bradley," Smith said. "I would certainly have liked to not have to provide the full $4.5 million, but hopefully the full number won't be needed in year two."
Aer Lingus Chief Commercial Officer Keith Butler (who has since left the company) told HBJ in 2016 that the the airline hoped to fill 105,000 seats in its first 12 months. Bradley data shows that it filled about 77,000.