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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Flight of fancy

"Plane truth: Millions spend on rarely used airport":

Just north of the Indiana Toll Road, off Cline Avenue, sits the Gary/Chicago International Airport.

Its name sounds substantial. Its annual budget is in the millions of dollars. And Chicagoans -- along with citizens of Gary -- spend millions in tax dollars every year to help keep it in business.

But in spite of an annual operating budget of more than $3 million -- plus tens of millions more being spent on a runway expansion and other capital projects -- the GCIA terminal sits mostly empty. The front entrance is usually locked; the parking lot is nearly vacant, and the skies are -- for the most part -- empty.

That’s because GCIA has only one passenger flight -- Allegiant Airlines Flight 650. It flies nonstop from Sanford, Fla., to Gary, where passengers unload and new passengers board. Allegiant changes the flight number to 651, and the plane takes off and heads back to Sanford.

It’s time on the ground in Gary: Usually less than one hour.

Once the flight is gone, the terminal is shut down and locked up for several days. The Allegiant flight only comes to Gary twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays. That’s it.

Millions and millions wasted, nothing going on. Sounds almost like a green energy subsidy, doesn't it? One of the back stories here is that Gary seems to have out Chicagoed Chicago (in thug politics, that is). A lot of the money flowing into the airport comes the "Compact" reached between Gary and Chicago back in the 1990s that requires Chicago to send the aiport over $1 million a year in tax money and even more in fees collected from O'Hare and Midway passengers.

I continue to think "International" is a tad pretentious for airports in cities the size of, say, Gary or, oh, Fort Wayne. If it can still be "O'Hare International Airport," why the hell can't we have "Baer Field International Airport," huh, huh, huh?



Bob G.
Thu, 11/08/2012 - 1:24pm


Can you blame them for ONLY sitting on the tarmac LESS than an hour???

Gary doesn't NEED an airport...it NEEDS less crime.

(at least THAT money wouldn't be wasted)

And yes, like FWIA..it's a REGIONAL airport (with feeds to the REAL international ones)

Simple enough to skull out.


Stay safe.

Harl Delos
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 5:35pm

According to their website, GCIA is an FBO operation, like Smith Field, rather than like Baer Field.

And there are other flights.  A charter flight to Harrah's Tunica on Monday returns today, for instance.

Many companies keep their corporate aircraft at Fixed Base Operators.  I really don't think making hundreds of people in a 757 wait for an amateur to land his Piper Cub makes much sense.

There's also a lot of cargo flights.

I swore 20 years ago that I'd never fly on an airline ever again, but if I were still flying, I'd like there to be an FBO handy where low-on-fuel liners could divert to in case the runway at the big airport was unusable for a couple of hours.