Victoria airport officials to hear air service proposals


June 12, 2012 at 1:12 a.m.
Updated June 13, 2012 at 1:13 a.m.

The future of Victoria air service should come into sharper focus Wednesday.

SeaPort Airlines Inc. and Sun Air International will present local air service proposals at the Victoria Regional Airport Commission meeting, said Jason Milewski, the airport's manager.

The commission should be prepared to make a decision after the presentations.

Milewski said both potential airlines would offer four flights a day to Houston and would bring two aircraft to Victoria to act as a backup in case of mechanical issues.

Likewise, both would require passengers to be screened for baggage both in Victoria and again in Houston. Also, because of a lack of code sharing between smaller carriers and larger airlines, both would require travelers to book tickets to Houston and then again to their final destinations.

Still, the plans have their differences.

While SeaPort would fly to George Bush Intercontinental Airport and charge an average $62 per fare, Sun Air's plan includes flights to Hobby Airport at an average $44 per fare, according to the written proposals.

Sun Air's plans call for a nine-passenger, twin-engine Piper Chieftain. SeaPort offers two options - either the Chieftain, or a nine-passenger, single-engine Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.

SeaPort's proposal indicates the company submitted Victoria's only air carrier proposal by the first due date, April 25, but was rejected because, at the time, the plan called for use of the single-engine plane only.

Colgan Air Inc., Victoria's current provider, announced in early March plans to pull its essential air service from the local airport. At the time, the company said it planned to remain in Victoria until the city found a replacement carrier.

On May 24, however, Colgan announced plans to discontinue service June 30.

Milewski said he looked forward to determining the next carrier and moving forward with the process.

There might still be a gap in air service, he said, but that could be as little as two weeks, depending on how quickly the process goes forward.

The good thing about smaller air carriers, he added, is that they care about the communities they serve.

"This is their lifeblood," he said. "It is exciting to have an airline that is willing and wanting to serve the needs of the community. And that's something we haven't had in many, many years."



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