Cincinnati/No. Ky. Int'l Airport to Extend Study Into Noise

HEBRON - A study into steps that Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport can take to lessen the impact of aircraft noise, especially at night, will take another 18 months, airport officials said Monday.

With Delta Air Lines and local subsidiary Comair cutting flights by 26 percent Dec. 1, and air cargo operator DHL pulling out two months ago, airport officials said they need to rework estimates of how many planes the airport will be accommodating in 25 years.

The study, originally projected to cost $1.1 million, was to be completed next month, but now will take until the second quarter of 2007, Barb Schempf, airport governmental affairs and noise abatement manager, said at the monthly meeting of the Kenton County Airport Board.

"Delta could start growing again and we could get another cargo carrier in here, and we would like to have nighttime noise procedures in place and approved if that happens," Schempf said.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires completion of the study before federal funds can be used for noise mitigation.

Previous projections showed the noise contours, or noisiest areas, would initially shrink when the airport's new runway opened up next month, but then grow over time.

That has changed as Delta and Comair entered bankruptcy in September. Those airlines combine locally to operate Delta's second-largest hub.

Initially, the study predicted that by 2025 the airport would handle about 850,000 takeoffs and landings, but Schempf said those numbers, and the correlating noise maps, would have to be redone.

The extra cost of $100,000 had already been budgeted as a precaution, she said.

Another public meeting on the study is tentatively scheduled for January, though a specific date has not been set. The airport is also holding a public workshop on the opening of its new north/south runway next month. That landing strip is scheduled to open during the week of Dec. 16, and the workshop is being held at the airport Dec. 14 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Schempf said the airport had already received calls complaining about noise from the new runway, even though it is not yet open for flights.

In other board news, the airport's finance director, Sheila Hammons, has been named as a nonvoting member of the creditors' committee for the Delta bankruptcy. Cincinnati and Atlanta are the only two airports represented.

Airport lawyer Will Zeigler told the board that based on Delta's actions to date, and its previous commitment to keep its hub here, he expects the airline to make its scheduled payment of $30 million Feb. 1 for the bonds used to construct Terminal 3. In 1992, Delta took out $415 million worth of bonds to build its hub here, and though the airport took out the bonds on behalf of the airline, it is not liable for the debt.

Delta considers the debt unsecured, Zeigler said, but probably will not default, because it would relinquish control of the buildings.

Also, the airport entered into an agreement with T-Mobile to provide wireless Internet access in Delta's Concourses A and B in Terminal 3. Service should be available in all public access areas by the beginning of December. Cost is $30 a month for subscribers, and day passes can be bought for $9.99. The service is also available for $6 for one hour and 10 cents a minute after that.

The agreement pays the airport $45,000 a year or 10 percent of the gross receipts, whichever is greater.

The airport already has agreements with Cincinnati Bell for wi-fi access in Terminal 2 and in Comair's Concourse C.