Friday, April 28, 2017

Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (KPHF) gets into the restaurant business as state readies financial audit

NEWPORT NEWS  -  The short promotional video flashed a NASA logo and stock images of workers inside hi-tech factories to explain Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport's economic impact in the area. But an airport board member on Thursday wanted to see more about families flying in and out.

"There was other filming that Ken did that obviously we can't use right now," explained marketing director Jessica Wharton, referring to Ken Spirito, the airport's executive director who has been on indefinite leave since early March as the state audits the airport's financials.

It was a small reminder of the airport's competing issues at the moment.

A week since debuting $14.6 million in security checkpoint improvements that bridge two terminals for the first time at the small airport, and a week away from finishing construction on a new restaurant following a legal dispute with its prior restaurateur, the airport is still at least 30 days away from getting the results of a state audit looking into a questionable agreement with failed airline People Express.

First reported by The Daily Press in January, the Peninsula Airport Commission agreed behind closed doors in mid-2014 to be on the hook for a $5 million line of credit that struggling airline People Express secured from TowneBank. When People Express failed several months later, the airport used state money to pay off $3.55 million of the airline’s loan. The rest came from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant and the Regional Air Service Enhancement Committee.

Since March 1, board members have resigned, the executive director was put on leave and auditors expressed frustration in getting information. But perhaps more noticeable to passengers, the airport didn't have a single restaurant. Instead, beyond vending machines, it offered free coffee to morning flyers, bags of chips and water bottles past security.

After ending its lease agreement with a prior restaurant owner, the airport has gotten into the food business. It hired a food and beverage manager in January who will oversee Take PHFlight at Patrick Henry's, expected to open by June 1. Once the airport gets an ABC license, it expects to begin selling beer, wine and cocktails later that month.

Interim Executive Director Sanford B. Winner said he knows passengers have been frustrated with the lack of food.

"We hear more about that: 'I want a place to eat,' " he said.

The airport hopes to earn up to $183,000 in annual profit once it can sell alcohol and achieve a return on its investment within five to eight years. It has spent $890,000 to construct it so far. Officials said the prior restaurant operator earned $2.71 in revenue per passenger; the airport expects to make $3.15.

Word of the audit came as the airport aimed to improve the traveler experience in anticipation of more passengers using a new airline: Elite Airways. But the airline's plans to launch new flights between Newport News and Long Island have been in a holding pattern since January as it, too, awaits the results of the state's audit, hoping to launch when headlines are less about financial scrutiny of the airport and more about its own launch.

"We have the signage; we have the (ticket) counters ready," said Wanner. "We're ready to welcome them."

Brad Gales of the Virginia Department of Transportation's insurance and compliance unit told the Peninsula Airport Commission Thursday that efforts to get documents for the audit have improved and the agency has already compiled 200 pages detailing what happened and when, and has been combing through thousands of pages of emails, including 3,000 from the city of Newport News and another 12,000 he expects to receive soon.

"We have amassed a large number of observations now," he said.

Original article can be found here:

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. RAUL OSVALDO ROSALES, a/k/a Saulo Solorazano, a/k/a Saulo Solorzano; Raul Osvaldo Rosales, Appellant

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
District Court No. 2-15-cr-00085-002
District Judge: The Honorable Jan E. DuBois
Submitted Pursuant to Third Circuit L.A.R. 34.1(a)
March 23, 2017
Before: SMITH, Chief Judge, JORDAN, and ROTH, Circuit Judges

Filed: April 19, 2017

This disposition is not an opinion of the full court and pursuant to I.O.P. 5.7 does not constitute binding precedent.

SMITH, Chief Judge.

Raul Rosales appeals a District Court order denying a motion to suppress evidence.  For the following reasons, we will affirm.

The following facts, taken from the District Court’s memorandum opinion resolving the motion to suppress evidence, are not in dispute. 

On February 3, 2015, pilot Warren Nichols departed Los Angeles, California, in a small airplane.  The plane made a series of stops.  Raul Rosales accompanied Nichols as the sole passenger starting in at least Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The next morning at 2:00 a.m., the two men landed at Wings Air Field, a small, rural airport outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

While in the air, the flight was monitored by the Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC), a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

Read more here:

St. George Regional Airport (KSGU) near capacity, expansion needed sooner than expected (with video)

St. George, Utah — (KUTV) Flights going in and out of St. George Regional Airport are packed full -- so full that people wanting to purchase a ticket are unable to do so.

This growth, according to airport officials, is due to the growing St. George population and after three years, people are simply starting to realize how convenient this airport is. This reality is coming a lot quicker than officials expected, forcing some new expansion projects.

Richard Stehmeier, St. George Regional Airport Manager, said the airport had plans, many years down the road, to expand its parking lot, add more rental car spaces for people and to build a new concessions stand. But now, that may be coming sooner than people think.

Stehmeier said they’ve been seeing steady growth over the years but 2016 is the highest percentage they’ve seen.

“We’ve actually improved about 29 percent over last year,” Stehmeier said. He expects the numbers to climb higher than 200,000 total passengers this 2017 and so far they are well on the way to meeting that goal. The customers are to thank for that, said Stehmeier.

“They’re the ones that have done such an incredible job about being customers here.”

2News spoke with passengers about this sudden stampede of people wanting to fly out of the St. George airport, to hear from them watch the news story above.

Story and video: