The Indianapolis International Airport is hoping that a beefed-up airline incentives package will help it land new international air service.
Since 2013, the airport has offered a variety of financial incentives to airlines that bring new or expanded air service here. On Friday, the Indianapolis Airport Authority agreed to sweeten one part of that incentives plan: the amount of marketing support available for new international flights.
“As staff continues to aggressively pursue international service, this incentive will be critical to competitively position Indianapolis amongst peers also pursuing similar service opportunities,” Senior Director of Commercial Enterprise Marsha Stone wrote in a recent memo to airport authority board members.
Strengthening this one component of the airport’s airline incentives program will bring Indianapolis in line with industry standards and with peer airports in Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Sacramento, California; Philadelphia; and others, Stone wrote.
Marketing and promotional support includes things like banners, digital advertising and vinyl floor decals placed at the airport.
Currently, Indianapolis’ only direct international flights are to Cancun, Mexico, and Toronto, Canada. The airport is actively trying to land its first transatlantic flight and has identified London at the top of its wish list.
Previously, the airport had offered up to $50,000 in marketing support for the first year of new international service. Under the new structure, airlines can receive up to $400,000 in marketing support over the first two years, depending on frequency of service.
An airline that offers daily international service, or 365 departures per year, would receive $200,000 in marketing and promotional support in each of the first two years. Airlines that offer international service four days a week (208 annual departures) would receive $150,000 each of the first two years. Twice-a-week international service (104 annual departures) would be eligible for $100,000 each of the first two years.
Other incentives for international service, including fee waivers and rent reductions in the first two years, would remain unchanged.
Incentives also remain unchanged for other types of service included in the airport’s airline incentives plan. Those other types of service include flights to new markets or underserved markets; seasonal flight service; and new international air cargo markets.
The airport has taken other action recently in pursuit of transatlantic air service.
In May, the airport authority’s board agreed to hire the Indy Chamber to help it with both air service development and land development. Under the terms of the 12-month agreement, the chamber will earn up to $180,000 for this work.
In unrelated business at Friday’s airport authority meeting, board members also agreed to hire Indianapolis-based Site Strategies Advisory LLC to help the airport with land development issues.
Under the terms of the agreement, the airport will pay Site Strategies a fixed fee of $7,500 per month for activities related to two specific parcels of land the airport is seeking to repurpose.
Those parcels include a 128-acre tract that served as the parking lot for the airport’s former terminal building; and a 211-acre tract at Metro Airport in Fishers.
The city of Fishers is taking the lead on marketing this property and has already created a master plan for non-aeronautical development of the site.
Under the terms of the agreement between Site Strategies and the airport authority, Site Strategies will help create a development plan for the 128-acre Indianapolis International Airport site, and it will help vet the Fishers plan.
Site Strategies will also help the airport with a variety of other land development related tasks: vetting individual development opportunities, marketing and branding; and other activities.
The agreement between the airport authority and Site Strategies runs for one year, beginning July 1, with four one-year renewal options.