WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following a series of articles in the Cincinnati Enquirer regarding controversies surrounding the Kenton County Airport Board, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today called on Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY) to revisit the composition of the Board so that Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG) can best serve the Greater Cincinnati region in the highly-competitive commercial aviation market. Although it is estimated that more than 60 percent of passengers departing from the airport are Ohio residents, Ohio representatives on the Airport’s board do not have a vote on issues before the Board.
“CVG Airport has played an important role in the growth of Cincinnati’s economic development. With new carriers, more passengers, and an increase in freight operations, it’s clear that Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are excellent places to live and do business,” Brown said. “Despite these positive developments, there’s still work to do. We must fully utilize CVG’s potential and its role as an asset for the region. It’s crucial that representatives of all users of the airport have a meaningful voice on the Board.”
In February 2014, three members of the Board resigned after a series of reports on the Board’s spending practices. With these vacancies, Brown is urging Beshear to revisit the Board’s composition. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the seven voting members of the Board have significant power as they “call the shots on every dollar spent on airport operations, negotiate with airlines on new flights and decide how airport land and facilities will be developed.” According to CVG, there are 18 members on the Board. There are seven voting members, all of whom are appointed by the Kenton County Judge Executive.
Brown has been a longtime advocate for CVG airport. In February 2011, Brown wrote a letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson, noting a dramatic decrease in flight levels and fewer direct flights from CVG as hurting southwest Ohio consumers and the Cincinnati business community. Brown also wrote to the Kenton County Airport Board Chairman in March 2011 urging the board to focus on attracting new airlines, lower ticket costs, and increased passenger traffic.
Brown’s letter to Beshear is below:
March 12, 2014
700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 100
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Dear Governor Beshear:
I write regarding recent reports on the Kenton County Airport Board. The announcement of the resignation of the Chairman of the Board comes on the heels of a scathing series of articles in the Cincinnati Enquirer outlining the makeup and actions of this board. This announcement provides a long overdue opportunity to revisit the composition of the Executive Board so it can best serve the Greater Cincinnati region in the highly-competitive commercial aviation market. Doing so will help the region’s economic competitiveness.
In the past, I have expressed my concerns and spoken with many community members about the need for the Board to represent all of the airport’s users. By doing so, the Board can better stem the reduction in flights, increase the airport’s competitiveness, and ultimately reduce what have consistently been some of the nation’s highest-priced airline tickets. It is my understanding that the Board’s geographic diversity has improved, but recent reports clearly indicate that efforts to improve the effectiveness of the board remain. For example, while it is estimated that more than 60% of passengers departing from the airport are Ohio residents, Ohio representatives on the Airport’s Advisory board do not have an actual vote in the Board’s decision-making process. It is time to ensure that representatives of all users of the airport have a meaningful voice on the Board.
There have been positive developments at the airport—new carriers, more passengers, an increase in freight operations—but I believe that we must seize this opportunity to best utilize CVG’s potential and its role as an asset for the region. Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are excellent places to live and do business, but it is imperative that the airport remain domestically and internationally competitive and reflective of the quality of the region. I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to working with you and other stakeholders in Ohio and Kentucky on this critically important issue.
United States Senator
Cc: The Honorable John Kasich