The Athens Banner-Herald is reporting that Mesa Airlines is shutting down its subsidiary, Air Midwest. So as of this Friday, Athens will have no commercial passenger air travel available. Wow, we had commercial air service here? No way. Commercial air service, to me, means economical, timely flights that actually take off and are not consistently canceled. It means being able to get where I need to be when I need to be there. This has never been the case from Athens Ben Epps Airport. So Mesa Airlines, a company that has been trying to dump the service for some time, now can do it because they are just shuttering the company.
Unable to cope with skyrocketing jet fuel prices, not even the Federal subsidy could keep it afloat. Meanwhile, the Athens-Clarke County government continues to court other airlines to offer service from Athens, including an air shuttle to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. When will the local government officials take the blinders off and realize that such a service is not going to be viable or convenient. I am not saying that it would not be nice to clear security in Athens and hop over to Atlanta to catch a flight. I am saying that it will be the same problem we have had for years in Athens: there will be no way to make such a service commercially viable if business travelers are hog-tied to the schedules from Athens instead of when we need to travel.
It is time for ACC officials to give up the ghost. Air service from Athens is not realistic, especially in the uncertain economic times we are facing. If an airline cannot keep operating, even with a government subsidy, then the light bulb should go off. The ACC recently cut off Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to some non-profits because results were not being delivered. This same logic should be applied to all parts of the government. The Commission needs to stop wasting time and money chasing after windmills. Oh wait, windmills might provide better benefit in the long run.
Athens Banner-Herald: Flights Will End In Week