Following is from the local paper from New Bern.. evidently just as shocked as I am...
Craven Regional Airport authorities are scratching their heads with Thursday's announcement that Delta Airlines plans to begin service between Kinston and its Atlanta hub.
They're wondering why the airline picked Kinston instead of the New Bern airport.
"Shocked and surprised is the best way to describe our reaction," said Jim Creech, chairman of Craven County Regional Airport Authority. "We've been in touch with Delta Airlines and didn't know anything about this coming."
Creech said airport officials and the airport's agent, Sexton Airlines Consultants, have "diligently tried to attract Delta to this area for quite some time."
Officials did say they were pleased for the opportunities the flights, set to begin April 1, offer the state and the region but admit they don't understand Delta's decision.
"I'm surprised and disappointed it isn't us," said Larry Scantlin, Craven County Regional Airport director. "We've been breaking records with passenger traffic because US Airways has really worked on their fares to be in competition with other airlines."
US Airways, with flights to Charlotte, is the lone commercial airline to serve the airport. Midway, which offered flights to Raleigh, left Craven after it declared bankruptcy following the 9-11 attacks.
"My congratulations to Kinston and the effort they've put in to develop this direct connection," said Jim Davis, Craven County Economic Development Commission director. "Maybe Kinston marketed as a jet connection will ignite some people's interest and hopefully Craven County Regional Airport can work through its team to convince others to offer service here in addition to US Airways."
The announcement comes on the heels of Onslow County's airport getting US Airways jet service to Charlotte. Uhmm.. when was this announced?
"I don't know what impact that will have on us, but I'm sure it will have some" John Price, an authority member and former airport director, said of the two announcements.
"When we heard the Jacksonville thing, the two US Airways jet flights a week, I figured it was because of the fact that Jacksonville traffic has increased so rapidly in the last year and in the fleet, turbo jets are becoming the rarity.
"We will continue to do whatever we can to attract jet service here. I'm sure it will be forthcoming in the future."
Creech said the airport's 6,000-foot runway could handle the 40-passenger jets.
"I don't know what reaction will come from US Airways," he said. "It may possibly mean they will feel the need to serve us with regional jets as well."
Passenger traffic to New Bern is at its highest level since before 9-11 and is higher than ever recorded at Kinston before commercial service was terminated there Jan. 2, 2000, Scantlin said.
A total of 144,265 passengers either got on or off a plane at the Craven airport from January through October, which is 26,226 more than for the same period in 2003.
US Airways is in bankruptcy but has not threatened to pull service from the Craven airport.
Aiming High and going far..