Monday, January 23, 2012

Voice of Reason


A voice of reason has finally crept into the Peotone Airport debate.
The pure voice of reason, so often muffled, finally echoed throughout Illinois media recently. It was that of Michael Boyd, a Colorado aviation consultant of Boyd Group International, Inc., the company co-founded by Boyd in 1984. 
Boyd who began his aviation career at American Airlines in 1971 has an independent philosophy that rings throughout his company. That quality has catapulted the Boyd Group to become one of the most respected voices in the industry.
Boyd is not a political pundit. He is not a mouthpiece for proponents of building a new airport near Peotone which has traditionally filled countless pages of newspapers for as many years. Instead, Boyd is an independent aviation expert, which is not normally associated with the Peotone project. Perhaps that explains why newspapers from all over the state have picked up an Associated Press story recently that quoted Boyd as he warned against proceeding with a new airport near Peotone.
For this one story, headlines were varied; each told the story in its own way. Headlines included: “Aviation consultant predicts losses for proposed Peotone airport project; Would Peotone be next airport boondoggle?; and Critic says third airport could be fiasco.”
MidAmerica St. Louis Airport
MidAmerica St. Louis Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No matter what the headline, the message was clear. Claims that a Peotone airport would be some kind of panacea for the State of Illinois in general and the south suburbs in particular is nothing but a bunch of hooey. Rarely has there been a news story about this project that wasn’t spun out of a positive press release issued by the Illinois Department of Transportation, governor’s office or worse yet, by one of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s cohorts.
This was an honest, indisputable airport story and it was damning.
From what I could glean, the first story was reported in the Bloomington Pantagraph, and picked up from there. It quoted Michael Boyd as saying the Peotone airport could be a “major fiasco” similar to MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in southwestern Illinois. He called MidAmerica “a monument to dishonest planning.” Last year, MidAmerica Airport posted an operating loss of nearly $12 million, according to the Pantagraph.
Countless other people, including myself, have said the same thing for years, but coming from an aviation consultant of Boyd’s caliber, the facts are worth listening to.
Boyd’s comments were prompted by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn saying a compromise to move the Peotone Airport planning were forthcoming. He referred to a compromise in the governing of the project, not the need for the project, which remains unproven.
As Boyd points out, Illinois has seen a 10-percent drop in the number of people traveling to and from its nine airports. Routes are being cancelled, and arguably the largest carrier, American Airlines’ parent company AMR Corp. recently filed for bankruptcy protection.
Of the Peotone project, Boyd also categorized it as a “solution looking for a problem.” He says it is a political project fueled more by politics than need.