DAYTON - Coming to the Dayton International Airport's terminal by the end of this year: art and photographic displays and live music from solo singers or choruses, the city's aviation director said Monday.
Iftikhar Ahmad said it is part of his plan to make the airport a more appealing entry point for visitors to the Dayton region. Other airports have begun bringing in art displays and live music, so Dayton needs to get in on it, he said.
Ahmad and his bosses, City Manager Rashad Young and Deputy City Manager Stanley Earley, met with the Dayton Daily News' editorial board to discuss plans for the Dayton airport. They said they are preparing to ask the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to use 400 acres of the city-owned airport's 4,556 acres for nonaviation purposes, specifically for lease to businesses as a way of increasing the airport's revenues.
UltraCell Corp., a California-based company that will soon open a fuel cellmaking plant on city-owned airport land, is one example of how that can work, Young said.
Ahmad, who oversaw operation of the Nashville and Houston airports in his previous two jobs before becoming Dayton's aviation director last fall, said he also is working on these projects:
*Exchanging information with parties that might be interested in buying or leasing and operating the Dayton airport's 151-room hotel. Ahmad said it is part of his effort to increase revenues from airport operations to help lower the airlines' cost of operating there, which could make it easier to attract air service to Dayton. The airport faces stiff competition from the Columbus, Indianapolis and Cincinnati airports, he said.
*Talking with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration about possibly relocating baggage screening equipment behind airline service counters, to create more space on the terminal floor for lines of passengers waiting to board planes.
In addition, the FAA could break ground in September for a new control tower at Dayton. The shift to that facility from the airport's current tower could occur within a year or two after that, Ahmad said.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2242 or jnolan @DaytonDailyNews.com.
Business development became a greater priority this summer with the loss of a major airport tenant, UPS, in June.
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