There appears to be new optimism toward passenger service out of the Mason City Municipal Airport. Let’s hope the passengers share that optimism.
It took two tries — requests for airlines to offer service in the federally supported Essential Air Service program — before the Mason City Airport Commission settled on St. Louis-based Air Choice One to provide passenger service.
There will be a definite change as passengers no longer will be shuttled to Minneapolis-St. Paul but rather will go to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
While Minneapolis served most people’s needs, O’Hare is the second-largest international airport in the U.S. behind Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. That will create many opportunities for passengers to connect with flights to all parts of the country and around the world.
Whether it will be better — and we have no reason to doubt it will — remains to be seen once Air Choice One announces its schedules, rates and other details.
And North Iowans not wanting to go to Chicago can always drive to Minneapolis-St. Paul or even Waterloo, Des Moines and others.
But local airport officials and Air Choice One officials are hoping North Iowans will take a liking to the new offerings, and save some gas and big parking fees by doing so.
Air Choice CEO Shane Storz said his company is “eager to introduce Mason City to Air Choice One’s dependable service,” and that “we hope the Mason City community and the surrounding communities will once again come out and support their local airport.”
Dependability and price, of course, will mean everything on whether this new association will be a success. North Iowans grew terribly frustrated with the unreliability of the previous air carrier, Great Lakes Airlines (the company blamed a pilot shortage) and deserted the Mason City Airport in droves.
We agree with Mason City Airport Pam Osgood, who said the O’Hare option gives local customers a great new opportunity and could mean that “air service remains viable for the years to come for the North Iowa region.”
Hopefully, this new business partnership will click and there will be two years of success and not disappointment.
For years, we have maintained that air service is an important of North Iowa’s transportation offerings. Mason City/Clear Lake is at the intersection of two major four-lane highways and has fine rail service. The addition of Air Choice One will complete that transportation trifecta.
Now, we hope Air Choice One presents an attractive schedule and pricing structures so passengers will buy in by buying tickets. We certainly are eager to get their service off the ground.