Airport won’t gamble on Vegas

Airport won’t gamble on Vegas

By Jeff Havens, Staff Writer

The Greater Rockford Airport Board of Commissioners has dropped plans to run 22 chartered flights to Las Vegas. The plan could have cost taxpayers as much as $100,000.

Telephone calls to airport Director Bob O’Brien and Commissioner Mike Dunn for comment on the reported drop in plans were not returned. The abandoned proposal was reported in the Dec.1 Rockford Register Star.

During an interview with The Rock River Times on Nov. 15, O’Brien said he is currently at step four of an eight-step strategy to land passenger service at the airport within the next six to 18 months. O’Brien reportedly receives a 10 percent bonus for each airline he lands. It is not known how the board’s rejection of O’Brien’s proposal will affect O’Brien’s goal of obtaining passenger service within the next 18 months.

Sources asserted in a Nov. 20 editorial in The Rock River Times that O’Brien’s plan was to launch two flights per week to Las Vegas for 11 weeks. O’Brien wanted the Airport Authority to guarantee 93 percent of the estimated $700,000 expense while the airline would pay the other 7 percent. Reportedly, in addition, O’Brien wanted the board to spend another $40,000 to advertise and promote the flights. O’Brien would neither confirm nor deny this information on Nov. 15.

On Nov. 19, O’Brien talked about the Las Vegas plan on WNTA’s Chris Bowman Show but did not mention financial details of the plan. That same day, the Rockford Register Star printed an article about O’Brien’s Las Vegas flights but also could not give financial details. The Register Star asked Board Chairman Nick Ancona for specifics, however Ancona refused to provide details.

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