Ogden officials to consider $250K incentive to lure carrier to airport
OGDEN — A commercial carrier is interested in coming to Ogden starting next February and leaders will be considering a $250,000 incentive to lure the firm to the city.
The Ogden City Council is to take up the question at its meeting next Tuesday and plan details — though not the name of the carrier — are included in online meeting materials. The future of Ogden-Hinckley Airport has been an ongoing point of debate, with many city officials pushing for renewed efforts to bring in a passenger carrier after the departure last year of Allegiant Air and Avelo Airlines.
The carrier, if the plans materialize, would haul passengers between Ogden and Orange County, California, with four weekly arrivals here on a 137-seat Airbus 220, according to a memo prepared by Brandon Cooper. He’s the director of Ogden’s Community and Economic Development Department.
The unnamed company launched operations in 2021 and “focuses on offering routes ignored by other airlines and aims to open travel to many who did not previously have adequate options,” reads the memo. “The airline believes OGD will be a great fit.”
Whether the Ogden airport can support a commercial carrier is a point of debate between reps from the administration of Mayor Mike Caldwell, who think it’s financially viable, and other local aviation representatives and airport users, who question the notion.
Per the new proposal, the $250,000 coming from Ogden, if officials approve the incentive, would help cover estimated airline startup costs of $800,000 to $1 million. The incentive funds would come from money the city earns from leasing the city-owned Business Depot Ogden.
“Benefits to the City include increased visitation and exposure for the City and its businesses, with possible increased revenues for the Airport through parking, car rentals, etc.,” reads the memo. When carriers have flown out of Ogden in years past, the memo continued, the city has earned $100,000 a year in parking revenue. What’s more, the city would be in line for $1 million from the Federal Aviation Administration if enplanements hit 10,000 in a year.
Enplanements — the number of people boarding passenger flights — reached 29,857 in Ogden in 2021, according to FAA figures, and fell to 12,024 in 2022, when Allegiant and Avelo departed. Reps from the airline mulling a move to Ogden reportedly think it would hit the 10,000-enplanement threshold by the end of 2024 and they offered a fairly upbeat outlook.
“Flights may increase or decrease based off use and seasonal demands. They are also looking to expand to additional destinations dependent on demand/success,” reads the city memo. “They have indicated their studies show that there is an underserved market in the region north of Salt Lake through Southern Idaho with very limited competition in the destination markets they are looking at.”
Enplanements at Salt Lake City International Airport, the busiest in Utah, totaled 12.38 million in 2022. At Provo Airport, the next busiest Utah facility, they totaled 211,741.
Bryant Garrett, manager of the Ogden airport, told the Standard-Examiner last month that Allegiant, which flew to Mesa, Arizona, and Avelo, which flew to Burbank, California, didn’t leave because of lack of profits or low traffic. Allegiant left because the operator couldn’t hire enough pilots while Avelo departed because the firm could make more money elsewhere, he said.
At the same time, though, Ed McKenney, who’s active in the Ogden Regional Airport Association, expressed skepticism owing to an industry shortage of pilots.
Officials have been eyeing big changes to the Ogden airport — including a major upgrade to the main terminal — in part to lure a new carrier to the city. The terminal upgrade was to have started this year, but Cooper told the Standard-Examiner last month that the plans, now on hold, are being revised.