VIENNA - The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport has received a federal grant that will allow officials there to continue their quest to restore regularly scheduled passenger service.
The $780,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant really means about $1.2 million with local matching funds to develop a revenue guarantee program to support the first year of any new service, minimizing the airline's financial risk during start-up.
The grant will ''assure profitability through the start-up phase,'' said airport aviation director Dan Dickten, so carriers can sustain themselves early.
He said YNGAir Partners, a nonprofit organized to offer support to the airport, has pledged to help raise some of the $480,000 the grant requires as a local match.
Dickten is trying to land the daily service to a hub of a major U.S. airline to provide seven-day service with two or three flights on weekdays and one to two flights on the weekends.
The top three locations for service, he said, are Washington Dulles International Airport, Detroit Metro Airport and O'Hare International in Chicago. O'Hare he called ''a really good connecting point'' for gas and oil companies headquartered in the western United States.
Dickten said he hopes the grant will encourage airlines he's been courting to put into place daily service at Youngstown-Warren.
The Transportation Department suspended the airport's former Small Community Air Service Development Grant earlier this year over a ''technicality,'' Dickten said. The 2007 grant specified regional jet service, which Dickten said was the right aircraft to attract when the application was written , but direction changed to attract of different aircraft, a jet-prop plane, which led to the action by the DOT.
The application for the new funding was more ambiguous on the type of aircraft.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said in a news release the grant will improve the ''efficiency and affordability of the airport so it can serve as a reliable option for air travelers in the Mahoning Valley.''
The amount received by the airport was the fifth largest among 33 awards.