MBS Airport switches from Saginaw Co. Sheriff’s Department to Tittabawassee Township Police for law enforcement

A changing of the guard is taking place next month for security at MBS International Airport in Freeland.

Tittabawassee Township Police Department, led by Chief David Simon, has entered into a new three-year, $875,000 contract with the airport, ending a decades-long relationship that MBS had with the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department.

MBS is required to have a law enforcement officer stationed in its terminal at all times during passenger screening. Under the current contract, the Saginaw County Sheriff Department has a deputy in the building 16 hours per day, seven days per week. But for the time being, law enforcement coverage will be reduced to 12.5 hours per day, a move that reflects the reduced operating hours of the airlines due to the ongoing pilot shortage, according to James Canders, MBS Airport Director.

Should flights increase, MBS will adjust law enforcement operations at the airport accordingly, Canders said. The MBS Airport Commission approved the new law enforcement contract with Tittabawassee Township with an eye on cost savings. Tittabawassee’s bid was nearly $200,000 less than that of the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department, an important consideration in a time of decreased revenue due to fewer flights.

“MBS still continues to struggle with obtaining increased passenger service due to the after-effects of COVID,” Canders said. “With the pilot shortage now affecting flights, airports across the country are seeing their planes leave full, but airlines are still forced to reduce the frequency of flights into airports.”

The Tittabawassee Police Department officially takes over law enforcement duties at the airport on Dec. 2.

“I am confident the Tittabawassee Police Department will do a fine job,” Canders said. “Chief Simon has a tremendous amount of experience in law enforcement, so I am certain he will ensure the transition is a smooth one for everyone involved. He has already been working with MBS staff to get things ready for the official start date of December 2, 2022.”

Meanwhile, Canders continues to explore ways to trim costs and generate revenue independent of airline flights.

“Currently, MBS has over 720 acres of land that can be leased for non-aeronautical purposes,” Canders noted. “We have been working with the Federal Aviation Administration and potential companies to lease some or all of this land. Nothing has been set in stone yet, and there are a lot of details to be worked out if we are to move forward with any kind of lease.”

MBS recently saw two employees opt for an early retirement, which will save the airport some money over the next few years. Canders also sees an opportunity for MBS to attract more business travelers.

“Flint Bishop is becoming a leisure-only flight airport, so MBS is well-positioned to take over the business travel segment for the region,” he said. “I will continue to have conversations with our existing airlines and American Airlines in an effort to bring back flights to MBS. With our new assistant director, I believe we have a fighting chance to gain airline service with American Airlines.”

Currently, Delta and United are the only two airlines serving MBS.

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