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Aerial of Westchester County AirportWestchester has a unique opportunity to help taxpayers and the public. Private companies have managed our airport since World War II. Through an innovative public-private partnership under an FAA program, private sector operation will continue, but with these advantages: airport revenue will be released to benefit all County residents, jobs will be created and there will be new passenger amenities, all with no expansion of the airport. Serving the public with a better, not bigger, airport--that’s smart government.

Unanimous and Bi-Partisan Task Force Recommendation for the Westchester County Airport

Here are facts you should know:

Significant Financial Gain for Taxpayers:

  • Long-term revenue stream will keep taxes down
  • FAA program gives county access to revenues trapped at the airport – money will go to pay for police, parks, day care and other services
  • Economy strengthened and jobs created

No Expansion or “LaGuardia North”

  • Number of gates (6) stays the same – LGA has 72
  • Passenger Cap remains in place at 240 per half hour
  • Runway lengths are unchanged – No new runways

Preserves Character of Community

  • Stringent environmental safeguards on water, air, and noise
  • Continued testing of wells to protect Kensico Reservoir
  • County maintains ownership, control and oversight of airport
  • Capital projects still require all regulatory and environmental approvals, including Board of Legislators’ authorization

Improves Passenger Experience

  • Reconfigured ticketing and TSA screening areas to speed boarding
  • Enhanced seating in waiting areas
  • Upgraded concessions, restaurants and amenities

 

Q: What’s changing?

Under current law, money made at the airport must stay at the airport. The FAA program unlocks those revenues so they can be used to help pay for police, parks, roads, day care and other county services.

 

Q: What’s not changing?

No expansion of the airport’s operational footprint. The passenger cap (240 per half hour) stays in place. The number of gates – 4 bridged and 2 unbridged – remains the same. LaGuardia has 72 gates. Runway lengths are unchanged – No new runways.

 

Q: Who will own the airport?

Westchester County maintains ownership, control and environmental oversight. Capital projects still need approval by the Board of Legislators.

 

Q: Why the talk about privatization?

Talk about privatization comes from the fact that this is part of the FAA’s Pilot Privatization Program. But privatization is nothing new. Westchester County Airport has been run by a private company since the end of World War II and continues to this day.

 

Q:What does the RFP do?

RFP stands for Requests for Proposals, which is the process the county used to solicit responses from companies interested in operating the airport under the FAA program. In July, the county received three responses, which are now being reviewed by a task force made up of members of the Astorino administration and a bi-partisan group of County Legislators.

 

Q: What’s the next step?

A long-term lease will be negotiated with the company with the best response. The Board of Legislators has final approval. A vote is expected in the winter. Passage requires a supermajority of 12 votes.

 

Q: How can the county be sure it is getting a good deal?

The county has hired Frasca & Associates, a leading, independent transportation and financial consulting firm, to ensure that the operator selected to run the airport will provide the most value in terms of financial return, operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
While the new operator will run the airport under a lease with the County, the County will retain full ownership, maintain oversight and authority on any major improvement proposal, and can remove the private operator if it defaults on its obligations at the airport.

 

Q: How is the operator selected?

Companies vying to become the new operator compete through a process called Requests for Proposals or RFPs. The deadline for submitting proposals was July 14.

Frasca, the county’s consultant, did an initial review to make sure the proposals conform to the requirements of the RFP. Frasca is now working with a joint task force, which includes members of the County Executive’s staff and the Board of Legislators to review the proposals and make recommendations to the County Executive. Lease details will be negotiated by the County Executive’s staff and a final proposed lease will be sent to the Board of Legislators for approval, which requires a supermajority (12 votes). The vote on the final lease is expected in the winter.

 

Q: What criteria will the county use to select an operator?

The county will judge the responses on three main criteria:

  • The best financial deal for the county.
  • The most improvements to the traveling experience for passengers.
  • The ability to operate the airport within its existing footprint and guarantee environmental protections. The passenger cap stays in place and the number of gates will stay at six—four bridged and two unbridged—which ensures Westchester Airport cannot be and will not become LaGuardia North.

Q: Will there be more traffic at the airport as a result of the P3?

The current passenger cap established in the County Charter only permits 240 passengers every half hour. This cap will remain in place and the operator will not be allowed to exceed it.

 

Q: Will the character of Westchester Airport change under the FAA program?

Westchester County Airport cannot become “LaGuardia North” under this proposal. Current limitations on the airport will remain in place. The number of gates will stay at six. LaGuardia has 72 gates. There will be no new runways or extensions to current runways. The current passenger caps and voluntary curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. will also be part of any new contract.

 

Q: Is this just a one-shot deal?

As part of the FAA program, the lease payments must be spread out over the term of the lease, creating a long-term and renewable revenue source that ensures financial and other benefits will extend to future as well as present residents.

 

Q: What approvals are necessary?

The plan must be approved by a supermajority (at least 12 votes) of the Board of Legislators as well as the FAA. Sixty-five (65) percent of airlines operating at the airport must also be on board under the FAA’s rules. On-going capital projects would be subject to federal, state and local environmental and regulatory approvals.

 

Q:How does the airport Master Plan fit into this?

The Master Plan is a planning tool that airports are required to update periodically to qualify for FAA funding. The Master Plan is separate and distinct from the FAA’s Pilot Privatization Program. The Master Plan does not supersede the restrictions in place on the number of gates and passengers and the county’s control of capital projects.