Home » New group formed to expand Louisville air service to west coast and northeast

New group formed to expand Louisville air service to west coast and northeast

Organization initially focused on nonstop service to Los Angeles and Boston

International-Airport_Flat-Color-horizontal-1LOUISVILLE (July 24, 2017) – A coalition of business, community and government leaders have formed a new organization aimed at bringing new, nonstop air service to Louisville International Airport (SDF).

Louisville Regional Airlift Development, Inc. (LRAD) was created because increased nonstop air service is critically important to ensuring the growth of the region’s businesses, education providers, and, convention and tourism industries. In addition, improving air service will help attract and retain the best businesses, talented people, and capital, leading to more rapid growth and job creation.  LRAD’s first two target cities are Los Angeles and Boston.

The need for the increased service is evidenced by the fact that currently, more than 500,000 passengers each year – representing nearly a third of Louisville’s annual enplanements – drive to Cincinnati or Nashville for better air service options.

“Business and civic leaders have made it clear that we need more nonstop destinations from SDF, initially to the west coast and northeast – two underserved major economic regions of the United States,” said Koleman Karleski, Chairman of LRAD. “LRAD was formed as a public/private partnership to work closely with the Louisville Regional Airport Authority (LRAA) to enable SDF to be more aggressive about competing for new nonstop passenger air service.”

“The Louisville Regional Airport Authority looks forward to working with civic and business leaders to further expand nonstop flight options,” said Jim Welch, Chair of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority Board of Directors. “Anytime we can increase access and better serve our community – it’s a win-win for Louisville,”

“This is a huge opportunity to increase economic development opportunities,” said Terry Gill, Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, which is investing in the initiative.” Kentucky is a hot destination for business right now, but corporate executives tell us they need nonstop service in and out of Louisville. This is an aggressive step to meet their needs.”

Community and business leaders are contributing to a fund that will incentivize airlines to develop new routes to serve Louisville. The fund is called a minimum revenue guarantee, which enables the community to share in the risk of a new route with an airline as the route builds to a sustainable and profitable level.

LRAD has retained Louisville-based consultant Luke B. Schmidt, President, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC for developing, implementing, and managing LRAD’s air service development project.

“MRGs have been used successfully to recruit new air service in markets across the country, including mid-sized markets such as Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Ind. and smaller markets such as Columbia, Mo. and Manhattan, Kans.,” said Schmidt. “Our initial focus will be on developing new nonstop service from SDF to Los Angeles and Boston, which are the two most underserved markets from Louisville. Other domestic and international markets will follow.”

LRAD is launching a fundraising campaign and is encouraging businesses and others in the region to make a binding pledge to support the campaign and to use the new flights generated by the campaign for the first two years of operation. Pledges will not be collected until a contract for new air service has been executed by the airlines for one or both targeted new routes. Additional information is available at LRDA’s website, www.lradinc.com.

LRAD’s Board of Directors represents a broad cross section of regional civic and business leaders, and includes:


  • David Jones, Sr., Chairman Emeritus
  • Koleman Karleski, Investor, Chairman
  • Ed Glasscock, Chairman Emeritus, Frost Brown Todd, Vice Chairman
  • Sandra Frazier, Chief Executive Officer, Tandem Public Relations & Marketing, Secretary
  • Michael Mountjoy, Chairman, Mountjoy Chilton Medley, Treasurer


  • Wendy Dant Chesser, President, One Southern Indiana
  • Roger Cude, Enterprise Vice President, Humana
  • Chuck Denny, President, Kentucky – Tennessee Market, PNC Bank
  • Sandra Frazier, Chief Executive Officer, Tandem Public Relations & Marketing
  • Terry Gill, Secretary, Cabinet for Economic Development, Commonwealth of Kentucky
  • Ed Glasscock, Chairman Emeritus, Frost Brown Todd
  • Brett Hale, Vice President, Global Public Affairs, Beam Suntory
  • Jim Hartlage, President/CEO, Hartlage Management Group
  • Koleman Karleski, Investor
  • Pete Mahurin, Chairman, Hilliard Lyons Financial Services
  • John Moore, CEO, Atria Senior Living
  • Michael Mountjoy, Chairman, Mountjoy Chilton Medley
  • Jim O’Malley, Senior Vice President, Director Global Corporate Affairs, Brown-Forman
  • Kent Oyler, President & CEO, Greater Louisville, Inc. (GLI)
  • Brad Richardson, President, Hardin County Chamber of Commerce
  • Lesa Seibert, President/CEO, Mightily (Louisville Regional Airport Authority Director)
  • Kerry Stemler, President, K.M. Stemler Company
  • Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, Chief, Louisville Forward/Louisville Metro Government
  • Karen Williams-Goetz, CEO, Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau