Paul McKibben reports:
The planned closing of Blue Ash Airport is raising hopes for new jobs and economic development – in Warren County.
Hoping to lure planes from Blue Ash, Warren County Commissioners last week approved a plan calling for a new hangar at the county-owned airport in Turtle Creek Township.
The 12,000-square-square foot hangar could hold 10 aircraft; three other hangars are in the works. All told, the airport could increase its space for existing aircraft from 100 to 142.
“This was a hub for the city of Blue Ash. It was a hub in Hamilton County and through their own choices that’s not going to be the case anymore,” Warren County Commissioner Dave Young said. “So we are welcoming that activity.”
Warren County owns the airport’s runway and taxiway. Warren County Airport Limited, a private company, owns the surrounding ground and operates the airport.
“Hopefully we can have some development industrial-wise like Blue Ash was able to do,” Warren County Commissioner Tom Ariss said. “That’s what we need.”
The Flying Neutrons flying club is moving from Blue Ash to Warren County. Aviators Flight Academy LLC is expanding to Warren County but will still offer aircraft rental and flight training at Blue Ash, according to the company’s website.
Cincinnati, which owns Blue Ash Airport, wants to focus instead on the much larger city-owned Lunken Airport in the East End.
The number of landings and take-offs at Blue Ash decreased to 15,000 last year from 35,000 in 1995.
Fred Anderton, Cincinnati’s airport manager, said no closing date has been announced. Weber said Cincinnati sent Blue Ash a letter from City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. that said the airport would close no sooner than June 8. Weber said Blue Ash hasn’t heard anything since then. The airport continues to operate.
“It’s very clear that the airport is going to close unless somebody wants to come up with Cincinnati’s asking price,” he said.
No taxpayer dollars are being spent on this airport expansion in Warren County. Robert Henderson , co-owner of Warren County Airport Limited, said another hangar is already done that can hold eight aircraft and there are plans for three more hangars. Those hangars can each hold eight aircraft. Warren County Airport Limited is building all of the new hangars.
There are more than 100 airplanes in hangars at the Warren County Airport. With the hangar that commissioners approved Tuesday, that new one already built and the three additional ones, there could be space for about 42 aircraft at the airport. Some existing hangars will be removed, according to Mike Yetter, the county’s zoning supervisor.
Other regional airports said they would of course welcome any business.
“We have interest in luring any type of aviation to the airport but Blue Ash doesn’t really have much,” said Ron Davis, administrator of the Butler County Regional Airport in Hamilton.
There are no current plans to extend the existing runway, build an additional runway and build more aircraft storage facilities at the Clermont County Airport in Batavia, according to Bill Anderson, a spokesman for Eastern Cincinnati Aviation, which manages the airport for Clermont County.
“We’re always happy to have new business,” Anderson said. “We’re really sorry to see any airport close and think that the city’s making a mistake.”
The Warren County Airport has one 4,500-foot long runway. Henderson said it will be widened hopefully within two years. Widening the runway and moving the taxiway will cost $3.4 million. He said widening the runway will make it more user friendly for larger aircraft.