Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Customary Fantasy . . .

According to the Rome Sentinel: With new customs agent, Griffiss can accept international arrivals.
A permanent customs presence is seen as a value-added service for the aircraft maintenance and overhaul facilities whose customers sometimes send planes to Griffiss from foreign starting points.

Additionally, it is hoped that having a customs facility will help attract more international flights, boosting fuel sales. More than a million gallons were sold last year. The county is paid 8 cents for every gallon of aircraft fuel sold by ground services provider Million Air.

Boosting fuel sales?  Is that Oneida County's objective? The County would be much better off operating a 7-11.

Attracting international flights? Do people fly in from other countries just to meet with a customs agent, or because they have business locally?  Just how much international business is there locally? 

Of course, Griffiss had already been accepting international arrivals with arrangements made as needed for an agent to come out from Syracuse to meet the plane.  So now, to avoid the bother of having to make those arrangements,  per the Observer Dispatch Oneida County Taxpayers are on the hook for almost $150,000/year in pay and benefits for the agent... i.e., almost $3,000/week! Additionally, the agent is on duty only 8 hrs./day 5 days per week, so it looks like calls to Syracuse will continue when a flight comes in outside of the scheduled shift.  

So far since the agent has been on duty, international traffic has been about 1 -- that's One, Uno, Un, Einer, Jedan, один, ένας, واحد -- flight per week!
“Our hope is that if you take a longer view, it will more than pay for itself,” Majority Leader George Joseph said. “It takes a while for the word to spread. It’s just another tool in our toolbox we can offer as we promote the airport.”
That's an Expensive Tool!
The county Board of Legislators’ Democratic Minority Leader Frank Tallarino said he never supported the installation of a Customs facility, and it’s no surprise business there hasn’t been more brisk. “At this point in time we did not need that expense,” he said. “We need a carrier first.” 
Tallarino said until airport fees levied by Million Air, the company that operates the terminal, are lowered, the carriers will keep away.
Mr. Tallarino raises an important point. Back to the Sentinel article . . .
Here’s a look at the number of takeoffs and landings between January and April over the last five years: 2015: 6,356; 2014: 7,964; 2013: 11,269; 2012: 18,570; and 2011, 17,120.
Why are those numbers dropping? Why is that not a clear signal that Oneida County is doing something wrong? How do the airport fees levied by Million Air compare with airports elsewhere in comparably sized markets? Who can answer these questions?  Why isn't the Board of Legislators asking these questions?

Are Board Members letting their party politics or personal animosities get in the way of listening to each other and getting answers to logical questions?

The Customs agent was the subject of a posting here back in 2012 when we were told that a customs agent would help "a lot" and we asked the question "How much is 'a lot?' "
One suspects that we'll build another Taj Mahal facility that will be mostly empty -- and have Customs Agent "Tatoo" sitting around most of the time waiting for "the plane, the plane."  
Fantasies sometimes do come true!


Anonymous said...

A costs v. benefits analysis, based on the number of flights requiring Customs in 2009, 2010 and 2011, showed that there might be an average of 8 flights per month using Customs at Griffiss. This did not justify the expense. Most of the flights were for aircraft coming for maintenance services by EAC/Premier and Midair, not transient civilian or military aircraft.

Yet, having Customs at Griffiss has been a consistent demand by Freeman/Million Air for its speculative business interests, but not at its expense.

The Business Plan and motto at Griffiss should be: "We Have Put Millions into Million Air" at taxpayers' expense.

Anonymous said...

Our DEAR LEADER Picente's fingerprints are all over this WHITE ELEPHANT. His minions( the so called board of legislators) who haven't had an original thought or the courage to stand up to the DEAR LEADER are worthless enablers.

Greens and Beans said...

I agree with Anonymous one in terms of having a full-time Customs Agent on the payroll is a classic example of corporate welfare. For the one to eight times the non-passenger air traffic requires a customs agent, Oneida county could send a stretch limousine for the agent to travel to Griffiss International Airport in style. And I also agree with Anonymous two in terms of the Oneida county legislators are led like sheep as the Sheppard's watchdogs keep a close eye on them in order to keep them in lockstep with the leader. Apathy on all counts hampers any progress that seems to allude Oneida county. The Oneida county legislators need to get off of their lazy rumps and get to work on representing their constituents. And the Oneida county residents need to elect legislators that independently look out for the best interest of the people they represent. Perhaps abolishing Oneida county's Republicrat party would be a good first step to provide the voters with genuine candidates to elect.

Anonymous said...

No one is asking the key question-- Who has been hired. Recall the dead body expeditor paid a big salary for no actual reason for the job? He was an ex Legislator. My guess is that if someone looked at who this "agent" is, there would be a political connection. Why else would we have an agent at an airport with no flights? Patronage unites two parties into one.

Some Guy said...

According to this article in the dishrag (from 2012?):

The Griffiss office will have one officer at a cost of about $120,000 per year. The customs officer will not be a county employee. Instead, the county will pay the fee to the federal agency.

Anonymous said...

That is correct. The Customs Agent is a federal employee.

Anonymous said...

What makes anyone think that the county would not have a say in who the feds hire? It is the county's airport. Well, kind if an airport in waiting.

RomeHater said...

The geography of Rome depended on water travel. That's not an economic driver anymore. We have train tracks (all over the place) because they went in when cargo was traveling by water.

The Thruway killed Rome as a hub. We are 20 minutes from a Thruway entrance. Greyhound or Trailways won't come here. Syracuse, the real airport, is about an hour from Rome and Utica. If the Space Shuttle starts taking commuters, we're all set. Otherwise, travel is not our bag.

Aviatrix23 said...

Regarding takeoffs & landings, know that the flying clubs practice those and they each counts as a, "flight". The military planes count as five flights for every takeoff & landing. When you see the C-130's, the C-5's & C-17's, they each count as five flights at Griffiss.

Anonymous said...

The point is that there are no major passenger or cargo flights at this "international" airport. As pointed out above, there is a real airport less than an hour away. How many millions will we continue to spend on this white elephant?

Some Guy said...

What's with the suspicious persons at the 'airport'?
Is someone trying to get the scoop on the customs agent's identity? LOL... It wasn't me, I'm not either of those two guys.

Anonymous said...

Does George Joseph get an extra stipend for carrying Tony Picente's jock strap? Or does he do it as a favor for his buddy?