Originally created 06/28/02

Augusta Regional negotiating with Comair



Augusta Regional Airport is negotiating to bring back direct flights on Comair, officials announced Thursday.

Airport spokeswoman Kathryn Solee said she has discussed with Comair's parent airline, Delta Connection, about having two daily flights between Augusta and Cincinnati as early as Sept. 15.

"Cincinnati gives (passengers) an alternative to Atlanta," Ms. Solee said. "If you're going anywhere in the Northeast, Midwest, Northwest, going over Cincinnati is a very easy connection."

Comair first flew from the airport in December 2000 but grounded flights nationally during a three-month pilot strike at the beginning of 2001.

When the regional carrier resumed operations after the strike, Augusta learned it was not included on the airline's permanent schedule. After a one-month appearance in November, Comair's planes stopped flying out of the city.

The airport had to offer Comair incentives to get back the Augusta-to-Cincinnati flights. At its monthly board meeting Thursday, the Augusta Aviation Commission agreed to offer the airline $50,000 to support the new service and to waive landing fees for one year, which would amount to about $51,000.

In return, the airport wants Comair to guarantee it will stay for at least a year. Officials also want different flight times. They say previous times were inconvenient to business travelers and resulted in empty seats.

In other developments, Augusta Regional officials reported that Atlantic Southeast Airlines, another Delta subsidiary, will add a flight starting Aug. 1.

A 50-seat regional jet will fly between Augusta and Atlanta every afternoon. An existing morning flight will switch to a 66-seat turboprop.

The airport also is continuing talks with Continental Express to start flights between Augusta and Newark, N.J.

"I think we'll have an announcement this year for service in the spring, but it's not a done deal," Ms. Solee said.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227 or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com.