Cincinnati Business Courier / Chris Wetterich / January 28, 2021
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport's board has signed off on a deal to lease Miami University’s underused airport, with the hope of expanding its use through innovation, attracting additional business traffic and general aviation and using it for training.
The Miami University Airport (airport code: OXD) is about two miles west of downtown Oxford, adjacent to a community park. Commercial service is not planned for the single-runway facility, which has three buildings nearby, including hangars. Many Ohio universities built airports in the 1940s when flight was becoming more common.
“The airport has great bones. It has great potential,” said CVG CEO Candace McGraw. “I think we can really bolster the general aviation business.”
About 30 years ago, Miami had a flight training program at the airport that is now defunct. The airport is little used today other than for a few entities that keep airplanes there and for other aircraft that stop there to refuel. Four airplanes lease space there. There are about 20 flights per month at the airport, with 32 stops for refueling by other aircraft whose final destination is not MU.
CVG’s vision also includes the airport being used as a testing site for autonomous vehicles, drones and other new technology that would be useful to the airport, McGraw said.
“It’s a chance to think bigger and bolder. They’re such a great and respected organization,” McGraw said of the university. “Our overall mission is to support to the aviation community via commercial, cargo and the general aviation spaces. We have very limited general aviation aircraft (at CVG). We thought, how can CVG and Miami and maybe perhaps other airports be partners in an aviation system?”
Miami University President Greg Crawford said students across a variety of programs and majors stand to benefit from the partnership.
Given Amazon and DHL’s large presence at CVG, Miami sees opportunities to work with them, particularly with programs like the Farmer School of Business, which has logistics experts. Data and robotics initiatives through Miami’s Boldly Creative Program also have potential to piggyback off of CVG’s efforts.
“There’s a lot that we can do here. When you’re in these circles in Cincinnati … CVG always comes up. It’s a very innovative airport. They’re very forward looking,” Crawford said. “We have this incredible opportunity for entrepreneurship. We’d love to have those students engaged in those projects.”
The lease will be for five years, with potential renewals extending it to 25. CVG will pay an annual $84,000 lease payment, but over the first three years, Miami will subsidize operations, with CVG receiving a net $36,000. After that, the hope is that CVG will have created enough revenue opportunities to forgo the university subsidy.
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