Airport poised to take off

Airport poised to take off

January 15, 2011

  • The Monroe Regional Airport posted some encouraging numbers recently. Tallying up the number of passengers who chose to fly out of Monroe, the airport recognized a 17 percent increase in passengers from 2009 to 2010. Considering the 2010 economy, when a lot of people were having vacations at home, the increase is doubly impressive.

To be specific, there were 101,722 passengers in 2010 compared to 87,177 in 2009.
Airport officials attributed the improved numbers to local business travel with increases coming from growing Monroe-area businesses Gardner—Denver, ConAgra, Chase and Century Link.
The passenger number was the highest since discount carrier Southwest Airlines began serving Jackson, Miss., in 1999. In 1998, some 126,491 passengers used the Monroe Regional Airport. Certainly it is understandable why passengers sought out Southwest fares, but with $3 gasoline, the distant bargain may not be one anymore.
Another reason for the growth in local travel may be that the skies are becoming increasingly less friendly. Departures from larger airports feature long lines at security check points and unfriendly attendants. Generally at Monroe you can count on the security line including only the passengers on your flight and a polite, professional security service.
Leaving from a large airport also includes fighting traffic, trying to find a parking space and a significant parking bill on your return. In Monroe, even during the construction of the new terminal, parking is still easy to find and close to the terminal. Parking fees are about half what you encounter at larger metropolitan markets.
With American, Delta and Continental airlines serving Monroe, there are now good connections to major hubs in Houston, Dallas, Memphis and Atlanta, offering numerous options for flights to popular destinations. Returning from one of those flights, it has been encouraging to see that the last flight to Monroe, regardless of carrier, is generally full.
And the traveling experience at Monroe will only be improved once the new terminal under construction is completed this summer. The good numbers should be followed by even better numbers.
The editorials in this column represent the opinions of The News-Star’s editorial board, composed of President and Publisher David B. Petty, Executive Editor Kathy Spurlock, and community representatives John L. Tolar, Lori Reneau and Douglas A. Seegers.

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