Albany County Airport Authority appoints two board members

Tom Nardacci, founder and CEO of Aurelius Coworks and Gramercy Communications, will serve on the board of the Albany County Airport Authority.

Nardacci will be joined Jan. 1 by another newly appointed board member, John-Raphael Pichardo, an attorney in Albany.

The appointments were announced Wednesday by the authority board to fill seats being vacated by the Rev. Kenneth Doyle and Anthony Gorman, whose terms are expiring. Doyle serves as chairman.

Both appointments to the four-year terms were made by the Albany County Legislature, which appoints four of the seven board members. The others are appointed by County Executive Dan McCoy.

Doyle is a retired Catholic priest. Gorman is vice president of The Gorman Group, a highway construction and materials company.

“The Airport is one of the region’s key economic development drivers and a place that can improve quality of life in the region,” Nardacci said in a statement. “I view my role as a bridge between government and business, especially the region’s new economy companies that need flights. This is something I am very comfortable with, and I hope to get more business voices engaged in the future of the Airport.”

Help for concessionaires

In other news, the authority board voted to suspend collecting “minimal annual guarantee” payments through the end of 2021 from concessionaire operators who are struggling due to the sharp decline in passengers during the pandemic.

The payments, similar to rent, were negotiated as part of the 10-year contracts with the concessionaire operators HMS Host, OHM and Paradies. Instead, they will only have to pay fees based on a percentage of sales, according to Doug Myers, authority spokesman.

“We felt it would be in the best interest of both the airport and our contractors to assist them in this time of financial stress,” Myers said.

The authority will also extend their contracts by five years.

Most of the concessionaires have closed during the travel slump, including Starbucks, Burger King, Wolfgang Puck Pizza, Empire Deli and Local at ALB.

Chick-fil-A and Dunkin’ are among the few still open.

The authority board hopes the rent concessions will lead to more reopening as passengers return.

Passengers count still significantly down

There were nearly 500,000 passenger departures at the airport through the first 11 months of this year compared to 1.5 million last year, according to the latest report on enplanements.

The data show a spike in holiday traffic in December though the numbers are still down sharply from a typical year.

One bright spot for the airport happened on a Saturday in November when a 767 was chartered for a flight to Hawaii with less than 100 people on board (the plane can hold 300).

The plane required 16,000 gallons of fuel, which generated about $32,000 for the authority.

Longtime spokesman switching to part-time

Doug Myers, who has served as the authority’s spokesman for 22 years, will change his schedule to part-time in January.

Myers, 75, a former TV news reporter, said it was his decision to scale back his hours.

“I wanted to step back and they accepted part-time,” he said.