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      City leaders say 'No' to privatizing Toledo Express

      City leaders fear consequences if Toledo Express was operated by a private company

      A Toledo based investment group has a plan to take over control of the city owned Toledo Express Airport and Toledo Executive Airport.Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said in a news conference on Wednesday the plan has little chance of succeeding.

      ??My administration is not going to entertain any plans as it relates to privatization of our airports,?? Mayor Collins warned.

      The issue arose after Treece Investment Corporation publicly announced they were interested in taking over management of the airports, which are currently operated by the Toledo/Lucas County Port Authority.Dock David Treece, vice president of Treece Investments, said the airports are not viable in their current state, and believes private investment is needed to keep them operating.

      Treece Investments is planning to release their formal proposal for privatizing the airports Thursday, but Mr. Treece hinted at one of the investment group??s goals on Wednesday. Treece said there is a lot of unused land around both Toledo Express and Toledo Executive that can be developed for both aviation and non-aviation uses.

      However, city leaders are strongly against the proposal to privatize, fearing the consequences if they did allow it. The Federal Aviation Administration has warned the city that it will cut off federal funding for the airports if they go private. That would include about $6 million slated to help pay for upgrades to the airports?? taxiways, with construction set for later this year.

      The Defense Department has also told the city that if Toledo Express goes private, it may remove the National Guard??s 180th Fighter Wing. President of the Port Authority Paul Toth said the Fighter Wing brings $100 million a year in economic benefits to Toledo, and losing it would be devastating.

      Toth added that even though the Toledo Express was heavily impacted by the economic downturn, the airport is starting to show signs of life. He said they??ve seen a double digit (as a percentage) growth in passengers over the past 15 months, along with an increase in cargo shipments into and out of Toledo Express. Toth also said all of the hangers at the airport are leased out, and are looking to find more space for interested companies.

      While Mayor Collins has made his position clear, Toledo City Council doesn??t appear to have much interest in privatizing. Councilman Rob Ludeman was originally looking to hold an exploratory hearing on privatizing the airport. After talking with the port authority, he has decided not to hold the hearing.