Passengers trickle out of the gate at Toledo Express Airport after arriving on a flight from Chicago. Mayor D. Michael Collins wants city employees to use Toledo Express for all city-related business.
Mayor D. Michael Collins thinks you will do better in Toledo, and the city will do better with city workers flying out of its airport.
Among changes the new mayor instituted this week is a policy requiring air travel out of Toledo Express Airport for work trips.
He also is considering new entry-point signs for the city to read “You Will Do Better in Toledo,” the century-old slogan that was rebooted recently by a grassroots effort and adopted by Mayor Collins to be the city’s motto again.
“For all travel, we will use Toledo Express Airport, and I will lead by example,” he said.
Mayor Collins is to fly to Washington next week for the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The city paid $464 for the round-trip ticket that includes a 1 hour, 25-minute layover at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
“It’s two hours longer but it was $30 cheaper,” Mayor Collins said. “But when you factor in the time driving to Detroit, parking, getting through [security], and getting to your gate, plus waiting for your bag at Detroit, as opposed to Toledo Express, it is probably a wash.”
The mayor said it's about setting a good example to help the financially struggling airport.
“We own the airport. It’s a taxpayer venue, and we should use it,” he said.
Paul Toth, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority president — which manages the airport for the city — said he was elated with the mayor’s policy shift.
“The last time I went to D.C., I did the same thing,” Mr. Toth said. “Our policy is we fly out of Toledo Express. You can’t expect the market to support it unless we support it.”
Mr. Toth said he unsuccessfully urged past administrations to adopt such a policy.
“I think as a community the only way that airport is going to survive is if we step up and support it,” he said. “If you are going to travel by air, you fly out of Toledo Express unless there a ridiculous price difference.”
Mr. Toth said the port is trying to secure service to an East Coast hub like Philadelphia or Charlotte with the merger between American Airlines and US Airways.
“Increasing ridership on American’s existing service is one sure way of getting their attention as it relates to adding additional service out of Toledo, and the next six months will be critical,” he said. “Airlines add service or bring service to a market when the community is supporting the existing service.”
The port reported last month that it is on track to show an increase in passenger service for the first time since 2004 and that it had eradicated a budget deficit of $675,000 for 2013.
Although Mayor Collins indicated the policy did not allow for exceptions, Toledo Chief of Staff Robert Reinbolt said Wednesday that price and timing could allow for exceptions.
“It’s not an absolute,” Mr. Reinbolt said.
For the other change, travelers who fly into the airport and drive into the city are greeted by a “Welcome to Toledo” sign that features the University of Toledo rocket logo.
Former Mayor Mike Bell ordered signs with the name of his predecessor, Carty Finkbeiner, removed and repainted with the UT logo. It did not include his own name.
Mayor Collins said he won’t put his name on the new signs.
Mr. Reinbolt said the slogan “You will do Better in Toledo” was a likely possibility for the new signs.
“The university is important but we are also a whole city,” he said. “We are trying to promote the slogan across the city.”
Contact Ignazio Messina at:
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