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Published: 12/6/2013 - Updated: 4 months ago

Treeces release 'marketability study' of Toledo airports

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
From left, Dock Treece and sons, Ben, and Dock David, meet with Blade editors about their proposal to to privatize Toledo Express Airport Wednesday. From left, Dock Treece and sons, Ben, and Dock David, meet with Blade editors about their proposal to to privatize Toledo Express Airport Wednesday.
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The Treece family today publicly released a lengthy “marketability study” of the economic conditions at Toledo Express Airport as part of their proposal to privatize the facility.

The plan was loaded this morning on the Web site, toledoairports.com, which was established by the family, who have been waging a campaign of support for their plan.

The study does not detail plans of Dock Treece, 63, and his two sons, Dock David Treece, 26, and Benjamin Treece, 25, of Sylvania Township, who are partners in Treece Investment Advisory Corp. The 86-page document was produced by Airport Business Solutions of Tampa, Fla. The Treeces have said they spent $60,000 to $70,000 for the marketability study.

The plan provides clues as to the kinds of businesses the Treeces would delve into if they had control of the airport, along with Toledo Executive Airport near Millbury in Wood County.

RELATED CONTENT: Marketability study of Toledo Express and Toledo Executive Airport

The study discusses for several pages the idea of a public/private partnership, and its benefits. It says costs could be reduced by 20 percent to 50 percent, and it would provide access to expertise not available to a public entity. Also, the private operator takes on the risk for cost overruns.

“Public/private partnerships between airport sponsors and investors are a proven concept,” the study states

Private sector participation can take various forms, including the outsourcing of airport management, design build developments, long-term lease of assets and other financial initiatives.

However, an expert consulted by The Blade said that outright privatization of publicly operated airports is rare in the United States.

Examples of airports with public/private partnerships given in the study are Albany International Airport, Rhode Island Airport Corp., which has five airports, Indianapolis International Airport, Teterboro Airport, Atlantic City International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, and the Los Angeles County Airports, also with five airports.

The opportunities highlighted by the study include international air cargo; scheduled passenger air charter services; enhanced general aviation services and facilities; maintenance, repair and overhaul; defense contractor and aircraft painting facilities; air park development; multi-modal developments; international carrier flight training - both simulator and hands-on, and non-aeronautical development.

The study opens with an erroneous statement, that the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority owns and operates the two airports. Both airports are owned by the City of Toledo and have been long managed under a lease with the port authority. The Treeces maintain they can make the airports more commercially successful through a privatization plan that would give them a lease with an option to purchase.

Dock David Treece said today that copies of the report were being distributed. In recent weeks, public officials have been curtailing their willingness to speak with the Treeces about the proposal because of the lack of a detailed business plan. Any change in airport management would have to go through Toledo City Council, which has not any proposed legislation yet.

According to the study, dated Nov. 4, “TOL has survived one of the worst 5-year periods in the history of aviation. Although the economy appears to be improving, the Airport needs to prepare for future swings of the economy by diversifying their revenue base and looking to non-traditional means of revenue generation.”

It notes that the price of fuel drops slower in aviation than the price of auto fuel, and the airport is also affected by the federal government sequestration.

The study says the port authority “has done a good job over the years at facilitating all of the available grants and other funding opportunities to improve, maintain and grow the infrastructure associated with the two airports. Unfortunately, many things have occurred over the years that have had a negative impact on the economic vitality of the Toledo airport system, most of which have been out of the control of the Port Authority.”

Those factors include changes in the national and regional economies, the “demise of the automobile industry in conjunction with the economic downturn,” the changing airline business model, and the departure of “the primary tenant of the Airport (BAX Global/DB Schenker)” in 2012.

As a result, there were “some prospective missed opportunities at the Airports.” It blamed an “antiquated business model” of running Toledo’s airports.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.


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