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Allegheny

County airport board could bar its members from investing in airlines

Theresa Clift
| Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, 6:18 a.m.
THERESA CLIFT | TRIBUNE-REVIEW
THERESA CLIFT | TRIBUNE-REVIEW

The Allegheny County Airport Authority’s board of directors could adopt a policy prohibiting its members from investing in airlines.

The board will vote on a new policy that would require members either divest from airlines or step down from the board at its next meeting Sept. 21, according to an authority news release.

Allegheny County Airport Authority Board Vice Chairman Robert Lewis and board member Jan Rea have both invested in startup airline OneJet, the Trib was first to report last month.

The airport authority sued OneJet last month, seeking to reclaim $763,000 of the $1 million incentive the authority granted in 2016 in exchange for 10 new routes.

The airline launched nine routes but has now suspended all service.

“The ACAA Chairman (David Minnotte) remains confident that the board’s practice in the past has been both ethically and legally sustainable, and that board members have recused themselves from votes when any conflict exists,” the authority news release said. “Nonetheless, the board wants to avoid any possible appearance of impropriety and will consider a more rigid standard that would preclude the board from directly investing in airlines, given their unique business relationship with the airport and the incentives offered to carriers generally.”

Rea, a former county council member, invested in OneJet with her husband in June because they wanted to use the airline’s private service to Naples, where they have a winter home, she told the Trib.

Lewis said he invested to help the community. He was also a member of the airline’s board of directors while serving on the authority board.

Following the reports, County Controller Chelsa Wagner asked county Executive Rich Fitzgerald to seek the resignations of Lewis and Rea .

Rea and Lewis did not immediately return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Theresa at 412-380-5669, tclift@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tclift.

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