October 29, 2018
Other Voices

Private investment already crucial to Connecticut airports

Kevin Dillon

In response to the Oct. 16 column entitled "Private investment in state assets? CT should explore it," I wanted to take a moment to note the significant ways in which the Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) has already fully embraced this approach.

Our agency is a strong proponent of working with private businesses, as evidenced by our recent history and plans moving forward.

First, it is important to note that the lion's share of development at CAA airports is already private. Think of the CAA as a landlord. While we own the land and key facilities at our airports, we regularly work with private entities that are interested in investing in our airports. This can take the form of hangar development, concession build-out and more.

We have negotiated development deals with a wide array of entities across our entire airport system, with particularly significant hangar developments recently completed by TAC Air at Bradley Airport. In these scenarios, the private entity negotiates a lease term in return for making their own investments into facilities that will inevitably revert back to CAA control at the expiration of that term.

This is similar to the concept that was employed at JFK airport in their renovation program. In fact, since the CAA took control of our five general aviation airports from the Department of Transportation, we have negotiated roughly 1.7 million square feet of development from private entities, with investment commitments totaling roughly $50 million.

At Bradley alone, we have negotiated well in excess of 600,000 square feet of developments and more than $15 million in private investment over recent years. Looking towards the future, we have a master plan at Bradley totaling $1.4 billion worth of projects, a vast majority of which will come through utilizing private investment.

Another major example can be found with the ground transportation center that we are planning at Bradley Airport. In this case, the rental-car companies at Bradley will be jointly developing the nearly $215 million facility on property leased from the CAA. While the project will be backed by airport-generated bonding, the rental-car companies are the primary funding partners, and they will inevitably bear the cost of constructing and operating this facility.

Again, after the lease term expires, the facility will revert to CAA control.

While we believe that we are still years away from justifying the expenditure for new terminal facilities at Bradley, we fully intend to review opportunities for private investment for that major project. Private-sector investment is a key part of what we do at our airports, and we certainly do not intend to break that trend when presented with such an attractive opportunity.

In short, private investment has been core to many of our recent successes. We fully agree that private-sector engagement is important in developments across the state, and we plan to continue our aggressive use of this development tool in the future.

Kevin Dillon is the executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority.

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