Logan's businesses, educational institutions and community members will be asked to pony up during the next few weeks as efforts intensify to land commercial air service at Logan-Cache Airport.
A committee formed by the airport's authority board plans to seek donations of $700,000 to $900,000 in cash to be part of a $1.2 million incentive package to entice an airline to serve the area.
Airport director Richard Stehmeier said Thursday that the money would be available to help an airline with starting ser-
vice. The remainder of the incentive package would be from the airport, in the form of marketing or guaranteeing ticket sales.
"When airlines are looking for risk-sharing, they usually look for up to $900,000," Stehmeier said. "That risk-sharing is for when an airline comes in and if, over first four to six months, they are not making money yet, then we share that risk."
The committee, led by Brent Miller, vice president for research at Utah State University, and Bruce Bishop of USU's College of Engineering will seek contributions from throughout the private sector, the airport authority board itself, USU and individuals, he said.
The incentives could be ready to present to airlines in March. "We could get lucky and raise it in a short period of time. I know they're pushing hard over the next couple of months to put together some kind of a package," Stehmeier said.
The board has met with officials from several airlines about commercial service, but Lynx Aviation, a new Frontier Airlines subsidiary, "is our No. 1 pick right now," Stehmeier said. "I don't know where we stand in their rankings. I wish we did."
Frontier Airlines representatives did not return phone calls seeking comment Thursday.
Stehmeier said Lynx would use 74-seat Bombardier aircraft for twice-daily round-trip flights to Denver. But he stressed that the incentive package would be available for any airline.
"We're not putting all our eggs in one basket," he said. "We're definitely looking at other airlines, but Frontier put out an RFP (request for proposals) about a year ago, looking for airports to go into within about a 600-mile range of Denver."
Logan-Cache Airport had commercial service briefly in the 1970s, with one airline flying into Boise and another offering service to Salt Lake City, he said. But in the past several years, the authority has used about $10 million to lengthen the airport runway, update security and secure fire-suppression equipment, all in hopes of restarting commercial service. At 9,100 feet, the runway is the second-longest in the state, Stehmeier said.
If the fund-raising is successful, flights could begin by year-end, he added.
"Our plan is to make sure the airport is ready when they come and when they decide to come. We raise the money, we go out, and we find the airline who says they want to come. We want to be ready for them, regardless of who it is," he said.
Marketing research indicates that many people in the area still would use Salt Lake City International Airport, but 50,000 to 60,000 people per year would use commercial service at the Logan airport. Another airline or two might offer service later if the first venture proves profitable, Stehmeier said.
"If one is making money, other airlines will want to get a piece of the pie," he said. "If you look at other places that started service, that's exactly what happens."
Tempering the excitement is that local officials were unsuccessful in a similar effort in 2005, when they worked to upgrade the airport and believed they were close to inking a deal with an airline that would offer service to Denver and Las Vegas."We're at the mercy of the airlines," Stehmeier said. "We can do all we can do, we can put packages together, but still it's the airlines that have to make the decisions on it. We have to try to be the best kind of salesmen we can be, but it's still dependent on them."