Airport is soaring

Close. Intimate. Comfortable. Reliable.

Those are the hallmarks of most any good relationship. And increasingly, they define the bond between Augusta Regional Airport and the flying public.

Through May, passengers are up 12 percent in Augusta over the same period last year -- a remarkable feat, considering the economy, and a statement of how far the airport has come.

It used to be there weren't enough flights, or that the fares were prohibitive, or that Delta connections to Atlanta were unreliable.

Airport officials say all that has changed: Fares are tantalizing, especially since flying out of Augusta eliminates the need to drive one or two hours to other airports. Augusta has a new terminal that is both attractive and convenient. And Delta has improved its reliability.

We have noticed packed planes in and out of the airport. And that's a good thing all around.

It means more folks are using their hometown airport, for one thing. For another, it means we're much less likely to lose service; and that's vital, since having two airlines service Augusta (US Airways being the other) helps keep fares down and choices up.

In fact, if recent trends hold, all that just might make the case for a third airline, and perhaps nonstops to places such as Washington, D.C., and New York.

Also, reliability rates in Augusta are now 99.35 percent for Delta and 99.45 for US Air.ways. And Delta canceled all of two flights in the entire month of May.

Remember the days when we had fund-raisers to bring airlines here? What a difference.

If you've been avoiding Augusta Regional Airport for whatever reason, it's a good bet the reason's outdated. You might want to give the airport another try. The fares make it worthwhile to fly out from Augusta, and the convenience will get you hooked.

The airport is close, it's intimate, it's comfortable, and it's more reliable than it's been in years.

It's clearly going places if you are.

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