Advocate Editorial Board opinion:

By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 13, 2014 at 12:13 a.m.

Victoria is banking on a better option for its air service.

The options all carry some degree of turbulence, however, because small airports face big challenges. Simple economics dictate that Victoria will get only limited service.

The Victoria County Airport Commission's new choice is Public Charters Inc., of Avoca, Pa., which offers a similar service at Manistee County Blacker Airport in Manistee, Mich. This airline offers a bigger, better plane than Victoria's existing operator, Sun Air, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Public Charters' British Aerospace Jetstream 31, which seats 19, is a significant upgrade over Sun Air's twin-engine Piper Chieftain, which seats nine.

Sun Air's 18 months of service in Victoria has been marred by delayed or canceled flights, luggage problems and complaints about the small, aging aircraft. Clearly, the county isn't taking much of a gamble by making a change.

Public Charters offers the promise of change. Instead of Houston, the airline will fly to Austin and Dallas, both popular destinations for Crossroads residents.

However, the airport commission would be wise to stay grounded in reality about the change. Austin and Dallas could be more challenging for passengers trying to make connections to other destinations, and the lack of an interline agreement could discourage those who have to recheck luggage through security.

When the airport's new contract with the federal government for Alternative Essential Air Service expires in two years, the commission may be looking again for a better option.

Ultimately, the flying public will decide the fate of Public Charters, which would arrive Oct. 1 if the federal government approves the county's choice. The Crossroads needs a commercial airline in Victoria to continue to attract major employers like Caterpillar.

Crossroads residents should give the new airline a chance and report their experiences to the airport commission and the Victoria County Commissioners Court. These officials listened to the public in changing course from Sun Air.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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