Ogden mayor-elect puts new focus on Ogden-Hinckley Airport, relations with stakeholders

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By Usa Express Daily

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OGDEN — A new chapter might be looming for Ogden-Hinckley Airport, with a new commercial carrier on its way and Mayor-elect Ben Nadolski’s desire to bolster efforts to seek feedback in the airport’s operation.

Still, it’s too early to say what sort of changes may or may not be afoot in operation of the small airport, which is due to get a return of air service next February when Breeze Airways launches service to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. “That’s too much to answer right now,” said Nadolski, who won the Ogden mayoral race last month and takes over on Jan. 2 from incumbent Mike Caldwell, who didn’t run again.

One thing’s for sure, though — Nadolski wants to smooth the sometimes-rocky relationship that existed between the Caldwell administration and airport stakeholders, notably tenants in the many hangars on airport grounds. Under Caldwell, the city had put a focus on revamping the hangars as part of broader moves to modernize the airport, nudging hangar owners out along the way per contract provisions that city officials say allowed for such action.

“We need to create a collaborative environment,” Nadolski said. The action targeting hangar operators led them to file a federal suit against the city, which was dismissed last year though the decision has been appealed. It also led the Utah Political Subdivisions Interim Committee to look into the issue during a hearing last month, though state lawmakers didn’t take any action.

The Ogden City Council took a step forward in moves to ease tensions this week, removing a provision in city ordinance that last June effectively dismantled the Airport Advisory Committee, a body that advises city leaders on airport issues. The Caldwell administration sought the change and the City Council, including Nadolski, unanimously approved the move last Tuesday. Nadolski sits on the City Council until his inauguration as Ogden mayor.

“I want people to know it’s a committee we plan to have and to use for a long time,” Nadolski told KSL.com.

He said the committee should include representatives with backgrounds in economic development and aeronautics, as well as representatives of hangar owners so they can have a say in airport development. He, as mayor, will interview and tab members of the committee. “It’s important we get a broad set of stakeholders,” Nadolski said.

Under Caldwell, the city has put a focus on getting a commercial carrier back at the airport and overhauling the facility, including the aging main terminal. Two other small carriers, Allegiant Air and Avelo, had offered regional service out of Ogden until last year. Nadolski, too, favors adding passenger service, but says it shouldn’t be the sole focus.

“I do think there’s a possibility for commercial airlines to have a future at the airport, but that’s not the only opportunity we have,” he said. He also thinks there are opportunities in promoting private jet traffic at the airport, among other things.

Cottonwood Heights-based Breeze plans to fly twice a week from Ogden to California starting Feb. 21. The Ogden airport terminal is getting a remodel in anticipation of Breeze’s move-in.

The Ogden airport pales in size in comparison to Salt Lake City International Airport, Utah’s busiest, according to Federal Aviation Administration data. Ogden-Hinckley Airport handled just 12,024 enplanements in 2022 compared to 12.38 million at the Salt Lake City airport.

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Tim Vandenack covers immigration, multicultural issues and Northern Utah for KSL.com. He worked several years for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden and has lived and reported in Mexico, Chile and along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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