Augusta Lands third airline
Three years of increased passengers put Augusta on American Airlines' radar screen.
Augusta Regional Airport officials announced Monday that American's regional carrier, American Eagle, will be flying twice daily into Augusta from Dallas, beginning June 10.
Augusta has not had three airlines since 2004, when Continental Express ended its 18-month presence.
Last year, Augusta's airport had more than 202,900 departing passengers, the most since 2000. It represents 12 percent growth over 2008. In 2006, 134,000 people flew out of the airport.
Already this year, Atlantic Southeast Airlines and US Airways Express report higher passenger counts for January compared to January 2009.
Augusta Aviation Chairman Karlton Howard said the airport has been courting American for a year, but the talks got more serious this year.
"They called us," Howard said. "Our community's aggressive, ongoing efforts to enhance air service are reaping great dividends."
Howard said American is getting the same treatment as US Airways and ASA. He said there are no revenue incentives such as those given to Continental Express six years ago.
Officials will continue to market the airport to other carriers. The top two destinations from Augusta are New York City and Washington, D.C., which could be served by another carrier or additional service from Delta and US Airways, said marketing director Diane Johnston.
"As airlines continue to see strong support from our community, boardings increase as they have over the past few years, maybe some other airlines will begin to look at opportunities available here in Augusta," Howard said.
Walter Sprouse, the executive director of the Development Authority of Richmond County, said the additional airline will be good for economic development.
"I know that E-Z-Go has a lot of distributors in Dallas; so does Club Car. I know Kellogg's does a lot of business over in Dallas. So we have some of those connections," Sprouse said.
Howard said American is in a growth mode and is not taking a flight from another airport to serve Augusta.
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