Charleston airport looks for new carrier, AirTran departs

As the economy still shows some struggling signs, less people are flying. AirTran Airways has decided to leave the Charleston International Airport, and now the airport is looking into incentives to lure new carriers in AirTran’s place.
Charleston International Airport Authority spokeswoman Sue Stevens explains what’s next: “We continue to work with the airlines as best we can. As you know, AirTran was here for about two and half years, they did well in this market as far as the number of people who flew AirTran, their load factors were good, but their revenue wasn’t high enough. They felt they needed more revenue to make their business model work here in Charleston, and with the current economic downturn, less business people traveling, they just weren’t able to make money on this route,” says Stevens.
Stevens says despite the recent departure of AirTran, overall Charleston still has good numbers.
“Charleston’s numbers just look good. We’re a good market. It’s not cheap to fly here, but we do have good air service for a community our size. And, the quality of air service, now a days, is as important to our community as the price,” says Stevens.
Stevens says they do plan on looking at incentives targeting start-up costs they could be the difference between new business and a missed opportunity. For new carriers, start-up costs are as much as $150,000 which include computer equipment, kiosks, and terminal improvements. Another incentive is to temporarily waive landing fees, which run about $3,500 per year for a regional jet with one flight a day. Stevens says they plan to invest in the aiport’s facility.
Stevens could not comment on exactly who the airport is talking to to become a new carrier.
“Even though we don’t talk about things all the time, it’s like anything else, we’ve got a lot going on with all the airlines, and we continue to look for new carriers to serve our market, and also work with the existing carriers to improve their service,” says Stevens.