Augusta Regional Airport's biggest hurdle is not just to attract more airlines, but to convince the public that present air service is reliable and efficient in and out of Bush Field.
That's a herculean task when time and again people fly out of Augusta to or through Atlanta, only to find upon their return they are forced to make the final leg of their trip by bus.
It's of particular concern with Atlantic Southeast Airlines and ComAir, Delta's subsidiaries that serve - and we use the term "serve" loosely - our fair city.
These Delta stand-ins have taken such a "don't-mess-with-us" attitude toward Augustans that it's no wonder some travelers rent cars at Augusta Regional and drive them to Hartsfield Atlanta Airport at a cost of approximately $70, rather than take the chance of having to stay an extra night at an Atlanta hotel, or being bused back to Augusta in the dead of night, paying up to double the cost of a rental car for the privilege.
Sunday's cancellation of nine flights from Atlanta to Augusta wasn't an isolated event. Early afternoon flights were canceled, forcing travelers onto late afternoon flights, which were canceled, and many travelers abandoned all hope of getting back to Augusta on Sunday.
Reasons given by ASA included everything from an "electrical problem" in Augusta, to security reasons, lights being out, foggy weather, and finally a weather monitor malfunctioning.
Fliers were so upset with ASA's cavalier attitude that a security guard was called over to stand by. According to reports, he told the ASA agents they needed to make some sort of general announcement to let folks know what was going on, but the agents refused, and travelers became more confused and upset.
Some fliers were given $50 checks for the inconvenience, some were given free hotel rooms for the night and others got a $7 meal ticket - hardly enough for a meal at Hartsfield.
Augusta has taken a bruising from Delta - first when it pulled its jets out and replaced them with 50-seat turbo-props, and then when it started canceling flights without reasonable explanations.
To add insult to injury, Augusta fliers are being treated like the enemy. That's no way to attract business.
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