Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Flying on time is important for everyone
Last year brought some changes to the Victoria Regional Airport. Colgan Air, under Pinnacle, pulled out, leaving the airport to find a new air carrier. Sun Air International has serviced the airport since Oct. 1. And while we are glad to see the airport up and running again, a weekly Partnership Victoria meeting Jan. 22 revealed there is still a lot of work to do.
The airport is an important tool for the Crossroads. It is meant to provide a fast, cheap form of transportation between Victoria and Houston. But the past few months have shown some clear weaknesses in the current system at the airport.
In November, 70.2 percent of flights left on time, 21.2 percent were delayed by 15 minutes or more and 8.6 percent were canceled. In December, 53.8 percent left on time, 20.7 percent were delayed and 25.5 percent were canceled.
These numbers are disappointing, and more concerns than flight delays and cancellations were expressed at the meeting. Community leaders also listed issues with plane size, scheduling and baggage problems.
We realize Sun Air is still relatively new to Victoria, and there are always kinks to be worked out after a change in management. Victoria is the first Essential Air Service federal contract Sun Air has served, and Roy Canter, vice president of Sun Air's customer service, acknowledged at the meeting that demand has exceeded the company's expectations. Sun Air plans to bring in a third plane to help meet demand.
We applaud Sun Air for their willingness to send in a representative and listen to the concerns of Victoria's leaders. Air service should be a successful, convenient option for businesses, residents and tourists. By coming to this meeting, Canter showed Victoria that Sun Air is committed to providing the best service possible to our community. He reacted to the current month-to-date flight-completion rate of about 85 percent by declaring it "unacceptable" and said Sun Air hopes to bring the rate up to 95 percent. We are glad to see this openness to criticism, and we hope the meeting provided the feedback the company needs to creative a plan for improvement.
If it is properly operated, the airport can be a major asset to Victoria and the region. But there must be some fundamental improvements by the carrier first. We encourage Sun Air to take the information gathered at the Partnership Victoria meeting and create a plan and timeline for improvement. We want and need our airport and Sun Air to prosper. We hope to see a steady rate of improvement over the next few months that will culminate in consistently excellent service. We know it is possible, and we look forward to seeing it become a reality.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.