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Airport, business leaders start working to restore nonstop Washington flight

American Airlines could be best hope for return

Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 12:42 AM
Last updated 9:32 AM
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Augusta Regional Airport and area business leaders started work Thursday to restore Augusta’s nonstop flight to Washington, D.C., by 2017, when the Army Cyber Command will open a new headquarters on Fort Gordon.

Augusta's direct flight to the nation's capital will vanish sometime in the next few months. An exact date isn't known.  SARA CALDWELL/FILE
SARA CALDWELL/FILE
Augusta's direct flight to the nation's capital will vanish sometime in the next few months. An exact date isn't known.

When Augusta’s direct flight to Washing­ton’s Reagan National Airport ends in a few months, travelers flying to the nation’s capital should still start their trips in Augusta, leaders said. Choosing to make a connecting flight in Charlotte or Atlanta could help bring back the convenience of a nonstop flight.

“The potential to re-establish that (flight) will be based on showing the number of folks going back and forth,” said Thom Tuckey, the executive director of the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon. “Keep flying Augusta so we have the numbers to help get it back.”

American Airlines Group announced Wednes­day that it’s ending nonstop service from Augusta Regional to Reagan National as part of American Airlines’ merger with US Airways. Augusta was one of 17 small and midsize cities that lost flights when the merged airline – now the world’s biggest airline operator – agreed to give up 52 slots at Rea­gan National to avoid controlling a majority of slots.

In addition to hundreds of military personnel that will move to Augusta to work at the Cyber Command, Tuckey said defense contractors are expected to expand operations in Augusta. Many of those contractors have headquarters in or around Washington.

Diane Johnston, Augusta Regional’s marketing director, said she has talked with US Air­ways representatives frequently in recent months about the community’s need for the flight, especially when Cyber Com­mand operations begin.

“They are certainly well aware of it and they are going to keep monitoring the market,” Johnston said.

The date of the last direct flight will not be known until the sale of the slots is finalized, but Johnston said it only has a few months left. Once it is discontinued, it will be at least a year before an airline would consider bringing the flight back, she said.

“It’ll be important for Fort Gordon to keep using our airport when they go to Washing­ton because that’s what they are going to be looking at,” Johnston said.

The 50-passenger flight also targeted officials from Savannah River Site, Plant Vogtle and Georgia Regents University. Local business and political leaders lobbied to save the flight, emphasizing its importance to the Augusta economy.

The incoming and outgoing flight – which started service July 11, 2012 – typically operated Sunday through Friday in the evening. Near­ly 30,000 passengers used the direct flight through De­cem­ber.

Sue Parr, the president and CEO of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, said a direct flight would get even more use in the future as Augusta and Fort Gordon continue to grow.

“With that level of service and engagement of that flight, it only stands to grow,” she said.

Johnston said Augusta’s best chance of restoring direct service to Washington will be with American Air­lines. The Justice De­partment said that the slots given up by the merged airlines should be made available to budget airlines such as JetBlue and South­west. Augusta does not have the air traffic to fill the large aircraft that low-cost carriers usually fly, Johnston said.

U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., said Thursday that he’s joining the fight to keep a direct flight to Washington.

“The nonstop flight has been an invaluable resource to the business community in our region and put us at a real advantage that allowed our community to continue to grow,” he said in a statement.

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WalterBradfordCannon
1442
Points
WalterBradfordCannon 01/17/14 - 07:28 am
4
3
I am not sure about keeping

I am not sure about keeping using AGS. I just checked, and CAE runs multiple nonstops daily to DCA. I can handle the extra 20 minute drive to avoid a stop in Charlotte or Atlanta. It will save me hours of working time.

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 01/17/14 - 10:33 am
1
0
Just add a special military plane daily. Obama $$ are free.
Unpublished

Just add a special military plane daily. Obama $$ are free.

Mr. Thackeray
900
Points
Mr. Thackeray 01/17/14 - 10:34 am
3
1
Perhaps Delta could pick this

Perhaps Delta could pick this up as it is an issue of AA slots in the WDC airports?

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 01/17/14 - 10:34 am
1
0
Maybe an Air Force 2-1/2 could be available for special folks.
Unpublished

Maybe an Air Force 2-1/2 could be available for special folks.

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 01/17/14 - 10:36 am
1
0
AGS is a dead end flight. Always was and will be. One of many.
Unpublished

AGS is a dead end flight. Always was and will be. One of many.

nocnoc
42307
Points
nocnoc 01/17/14 - 11:01 am
4
1
soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 01/17/14 - 10:38 am
1
0
Columbus GA has private hourly shuttles to ATL 24/7/365
Unpublished

Columbus GA has private hourly shuttles to ATL 24/7/365

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 01/17/14 - 10:39 am
1
0
Private shuttle vans are used all over the country. On time.
Unpublished

Private shuttle vans are used all over the country. On time.

billcass
772
Points
billcass 01/17/14 - 10:51 am
4
2
Sticking with AGS

I hate flying out of Columbia. When I get home, I want to be home. The loss of this flight is a big loss IMO, and I am hopeful we get it back.

nocnoc
42307
Points
nocnoc 01/17/14 - 11:20 am
3
1
Don't count on.....

Using CYBER COMMAND as a sole continued reason.
Because after the initial build up, of 12 to 18 months,
the trips between the DC area & AUG will drop drastically.

Yes Reston, Fort Belvoir, Rockville and other sites... are all with 60 miles of Dulles Airport, but a few major sites are not on this side of the USA.

Besides they are called Cyber Command for a reason. Why fly when they are as High Tech as they are, and
can Securely Video teleconference?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Remember the Ft. Gordon Power outage a short while ago?
It was to increase the Electrical supply demands, guess why?

While Ft. Gordon was not the cause what I am about to say.

Think of the power demands and problems that the CSRA had along with certain areas having rolling blackouts during the recent Cold Freeze?

NOW
Add to it CYBER COMMAND isn't in full swing yet, and the local area is about to add a facility that will consume the power equivant of a small city, from an already stretched Power Grid in
Summer and Winter months. Note: This is according to GA Power's requested rate increase in part was needed to increase Power services for the future demands of the GA grid.

So, Plant Vogtle had better start running a tap line to FT. Gordon.

Dixieman
14900
Points
Dixieman 01/17/14 - 02:26 pm
2
3
Story is not complete or does not emphasize important parts

Thank you, Obama "Justice" Department.
As a condition of the American/US Airways merger, American HAD to give up this flight under Federal government pressure and order. What this means is that the slot is now out for bids and if there is enough potential traffic another airline will come in and bid for it. So the Feds are to blame, not the airline. We can only hope the other airlines see the potential we do and bid on the slot.

Darby
25462
Points
Darby 01/17/14 - 03:54 pm
4
2
This is the type of thing that happens when

government bureaucrats meddle in free enterprise just to demonstrate that they have the power to do so.

The OzBama administration has the lowest number of appointees with business experience in entire the history of the country.

Behold the Great and Powerful OzBama!

jrsc429
370
Points
jrsc429 01/21/14 - 05:51 pm
0
0
American didn't have to give it up

American Airlines did not have to give up this flight. American Airlines choose to give up this flight. Two of the items that we have not been told: what percent of the available seats were actually occupied, either from Augusta or from D.C.; what was the on-time reliability of this flight. An airline is a business, and if a segment of your business is not making an acceptable return on your investment, then change your business strategy (drop the flight).

jrsc429
370
Points
jrsc429 01/21/14 - 05:54 pm
0
0
American didn't have to give it up

American Airlines did not have to give up this flight. American Airlines choose to give up this flight. Two of the items that we have not been told: what percent of the available seats were actually occupied, either from Augusta or from D.C.; what was the on-time reliability of this flight. An airline is a business, and if a segment of your business is not making an acceptable return on your investment, then change your business strategy (drop the flight).

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