In response to Adam Gilmour's letter of Dec. 13 regarding "procuring an efficient, less expensive carrier," Augustans should know that local airport officials have been in constant, aggressive contact with Air Tran and many other potential carriers since 1999. Air Tran is a very fine, financially healthy airline, headed by native Augustan Joseph Leonard.
As for "procuring" air service, Wichita, Kan., attracted AirTran with a $2 million-a-year "revenue guarantee." This means that, in addition to the passengers' fares, Wichita subsidizes AirTran's presence.
The writer's assumption is that airport officials are asleep at the switch. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that one airline, Delta, has operated continuously in the Southeast and has enjoyed a near-monopoly. Their declining service attitude and the uncompetitive fares it charges hub feeder-cities' patrons will only be remedied when Augusta travelers support airlines other than Delta - even out of the Atlanta hub.
To drive to Atlanta and board Delta there is to reinforce their poor service and fares out of Augusta.
Our city rallied around Continental Express four years ago, and secured service to two additional hub cities. This expanded Augusta Regional Airport's passengers' choices and drove down prices. While many leisure travelers supported Continental's presence, business travelers did not abandon their pattern of travel with the "less efficient, more costly" dominant carrier (usually because they have frequent-flier miles). Market forces prevailed, and Continental Express reprogrammed their aircraft elsewhere.
US Airways has consistent on-time performance statistics and competitive fares out of Augusta. AirTran is another excellent choice, especially those who choose to drive to Atlanta rather than patronize Augusta Regional.
Any patron who would like to help our airport to secure better air service should fly any other airline into/out of the Atlanta hub except the one that has dominated the Southeast.
Marcie Wilhelmi, Augusta
(Editor's note: The writer is a former member of the Augusta Aviation Commission.)
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