HANOVER TWP., Pa. - In about a month, one LANTA bus will become a rolling billboard for Lehigh Valley International Airport.
From nose to tail, the bus will be covered with "shrink-wrapped" banner advertising promoting the airport. The tag line being contemplated is "easy in, easy out," said airport executive director Charles Everett.
The bus will operate on several routes, including some serving the airport.
"Our goal is to make sure it goes around to the entire Lehigh Valley as a constant reminder that we have an international airport," explained Everett.
He said the bus also will raise recognition of the airport's logo, updated late last year.
"Our goal is to make sure the community starts to recognize that brand."
That logo includes the airport's code: ABE. LVIA previously was Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Airport. That logo also may be added at the airport's entrance, along with American, state and county flags.
The advertising will adorn the LANTA bus for at least three months, possibly much longer. It will cost the airport $1,000 a month.
The director hopes the bus will be on the streets within 30 days, but added that's not yet definite.
Plans for the advertising were announced during Tuesday's noon meeting of the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.
Everett reported to the airport board that passenger traffic increased 5.6 percent in January, compared to January 2011. He hopes that is an indication the economy is improving, adding it is consistent with previous months. He said passenger traffic in 2011 increased 4 percent over 2010.
The board was savoring Tuesday morning's press conference announcing Frontier Airlines will begin twice weekly service to Orlando in May, filling the void created when AirTran discontinues that service.
Board chairman Tony Iannelli joked that he wants to announce a new airline coming to the airport every month.
In two tie votes during the meeting, a move was defeated to end a professional services agreement with Joseph Uliana of JM Uliana & Associates of Bethlehem, who does lobbying work for the airport in Harrisburg. The board's executive committee recommended not renewing a contract, by a 4-2 vote.
Several board members advocated keeping Uliana. Cindy Feinberg said he was instrumental in getting the airport major construction grants, including $1.5 million announced last week. And T.J. Rooney said Uliana's "return on investment" to the airport has been substantially greater than the $3,600 a month he is paid. "He brought the money in."
But others, including Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, suggested if the airport needs a lobbyist, it should be in Washington, D.C., not Harrisburg, because more money comes from the federal government than the state and the Federal Aviation Administration is in the nation's capital.
Board member Bert Daday questioned why the airport needs any lobbyist, saying it enjoys solid relationships with state and federal legislators. "We can accomplish what we have to accomplish without a lobbyist." said Daday.
The board voted to renegotiate the contract with Uliana in hopes of saving money, with two no votes.
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