Column on airport got it wrong

November 14, 2009

In its Nov. 2 issue, IBJ published a Bloomington reader’s Viewpoint regarding the new terminal at Indianapolis International Airport. It was both uninformed and misleading. For example:

• While the writer seems to have a Grinch-like attitude about this new community asset, from numerous sources of feedback it is clear that most people traveling through the new Weir Cook Terminal are proud of this signature facility, find it well-designed and customer-friendly, and understand and appreciate the importance of this attractive and impressive new gateway to the image of central Indiana.

• While the writer asserts “The terminal is losing money,” plain and simple that is just not true. While it is not making as much money as had been anticipated prior to the economic downturn, neither the terminal nor the airport as a whole loses money. Beyond that, none of its funding comes from state or local property taxes.

• While the writer seems to suggest that the existence of the Weir Cook Terminal is somehow causing the airlines to cut flights or try harder to fill their planes, people who understand the facts know that travel is down all around the world, mostly because of the general economic situation, while Indianapolis is actually doing better than many other airports.

• While the writer seems to want people to believe that leadership changes at the Indianapolis Airport Authority over time are a sign of some kind of weakness, most people understand that being a volunteer board member at the airport authority is a public service and not a career. And while it may no longer make as much sense now that central Indiana has a more regional focus, the fact is state statute requires that board members appointed by the mayor of Indianapolis to the Indianapolis Airport Authority Board must be residents of Marion County.

• And while the writer asserts that this project represents an investment that is now “more than $2 billion” the fact is the project was completed, largely by central Indiana designers and contractors, under its approved budget of $1.06 billion, the baseline for which was set almost 10 years earlier.

And the list goes on.

The writer can be a grouch if he wants to be, standing in the way of community pride and economic progress, but he should not try to mislead other proud, informed and forward-leaning Hoosiers in the process.

____________

Randall L. Tobias

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