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Milwaukee County plans to re-issue airport concessions RFP after cancellation

Milwaukee County has canceled a request for proposals to redevelop concessions areas at General Mitchell International Airport, but still plans to have a new one reissued as soon as possible.

The county issued the RFP in January, seeking a firm to plan and carry out a reconfiguration of the airport’s concessions offerings.

According to RFP documents, the work would include: Designing and building a consolidated security checkpoint and related expansions and improvements of the terminal building; redeveloping and leasing existing concessions areas; and setting up a “common use lounge” past the airport’s security checkpoint. This lounge would have conference rooms, workstations, a full service bar, restrooms and other accommodations.

Not long after its release, the RFP was initially supplemented by the county with various addendums. Then, on May 26, it was canceled altogether.

Melissa Baldauff, a spokeswoman for County Executive Chris Abele, said the RFP was withdrawn because it was not written broadly enough to encapsulate everything that officials want to see done at the airport.

“So we decided to proactively take it down and rework it, rather than limit our options or change course later on down the road,” she said in an email.

Once the RFP has been rewritten with broader terms, it will be reissued.

Members of the County Board of Supervisors’ Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee are scheduled to meet Wednesday with officials from both the airport and the county’s Department of Transportation to discuss the RFP cancellation.

Brian Rothgery, a spokesman for the County Board, said he believes the new RFP will be issued as soon as possible, noting that many people are eager to avoid further delays.

County officials did not give a specific date, though, on which the RFP might be reissued.

Even while county officials and staff work on a new solicitation, airport travelers are seeing ever greater options for concessions and flights, Baldauff said.

A new Valentine coffee shop, for instance, opened at the airport just this week. Alaska Airlines also began offering nonstop flights to Portland. The first flight on that route left General Mitchell early Tuesday morning.

“We’re also seeing fantastic ridership on the Volaris service to Mexico and are looking forward to launching new nonstop service to Nashville and Cleveland later this year,” Baldauff said.

Abele’s office credited the Volaris service for a recent increase in passenger traffic at the airport.

On Wednesday, his office announced that airport traffic was up by 10.2 percent between April 2016 and 2017.
“International traffic was up due to our new Volaris service to Guadalajara, Mexico and an extended spring break travel season, which was longer due to Easter occurring in April this year,” Abele said in a statement.
So far, total passenger traffic at the airport is up 2.7 percent from the first four months of 2016, and international traffic is up 18 percent.

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