Augusta Regional Airport officials confirmed this afternoon that a third airline, American Eagle, will begin flying into Augusta this summer.
Nonstop flights to and from Dallas will be available on American Eagle Airlines beginning June 10. There will be two flights daily from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport to Augusta Regional, serviced by a 50-seat regional jet.
Three years of increased passengers put Augusta on American Airline's radar screen, said Augusta Aviation Chairman Karlton Howard.
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, only 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.
Howard said the airport has been courting American for a year, but the talks got more serious since the beginning of 2010.
"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 revenues 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., said marketing director Diane Johnston, which could be served by another carrier or additional service from Delta and US Airways.
"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, 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 added.
Howard said American is in a growth mode, not taking a flight from another airport to serve Augusta.
American Eagle is also adding service between Dallas and Fayetteville, N.C., on the same day as the Augusta routes.
According to American Airlines' Web site, and other travel-oriented sites, the initial flights to Augusta are priced between $396 and $470 round trip.
Officials from American Airlines did not attend the Monday announcement and did not return calls seeking comment.