Airport woes give business leaders cause for concern

Airport woes give business leaders cause for concern

By SHANESSA FAKOUR The Brunswick News

A possibility that the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport could lose its only commercial airline is putting some community business and government leaders on edge.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center values the airport’s convenient service for its large of number of visitors traveling to Brunswick, said Connie Patrick, director.

“The potential for loss of air service is a cause for concern because a significant amount of FLETC students and staff travel through Brunswick,” Patrick said. “We are meeting with the (Glynn County) Airport Commission and agreed to accompany the Airport Commission and other community leaders to meet with Delta to discuss options that might be under consideration.”

Delta Air Lines, which schedules flights by Atlantic Southeast Airlines between Atlanta and Brunswick, is re-evaluating whether to continue daily service, the airport commission said Friday. ASA is owned by SkyWest, based in St. George, Utah.

The commission, joined by business and community leaders, is organizing a meeting with Delta officials to lobby for continued service.

John Rogers, president of Atlantic National Bank, said news of Delta possibly pulling out is neither surprising nor good for the community.

“It really is a reflection of the world we’re in today,” Rogers said. “The economy is down and people aren’t flying as much. I’m really not surprised, but I’m disappointed. I hope it’s not true.”

He said most of the bank’s customers are local, so he does not expect the banking community to feel as large of a hit from a possible loss of air service as would the resort and tourism industries.

Many visitors drive to the Golden Isles, but some take advantage of flights into Brunswick, said Eric Garvey, chief communications officer of the Jekyll Island Authority, which operates the state-owned Jekyll Island. Airline service is important to the community as a whole, especially tourism, he said.

“We definitely would like to see the commercial service stay in Brunswick,” Garvey said. “Jekyll Island is primarily a drive-to destination, but it’s always helpful to have options and make it as easy as possible to get to a destination. We’re confident the Chamber (of Commerce) and airport commission will do everything they can to make sure it stays.”

Joel Meyer, chairman of the Brunswick Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, agrees that a loss of air service would have a negative impact on tourism in the Golden Isles.

“While a majority of guests to the area drive in, there is still a number of people that fly directly to Brunswick for the convenience of a much closer airport … as well as a very short wait for luggage, car rentals, taxis …” Meyer said.

Meyer said he is glad the airport commission is taking the situation seriously and working on alternatives to losing airline service.

The airport commission will have a meeting at 9 a.m. today to discuss strategies for its bid to retain service.

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