Concord airport director pitches charter service

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Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013 10:05 am | Updated: 12:46 pm, Sat Jan 26, 2013.

CONCORD, N.C. -- Adding a charter flight service from Concord Regional Airport to various leisure destinations has the potential to generate a local economic impact of $9.98 million to $18.26 million annually, the airport’s director told city leaders Friday.

“We have to be totally honest with ourselves,” Concord Aviation Director Rick Cloutier said. “The general aviation will never go back to pre-recession levels. We’re talking about larger commercial operators. They’re public charters. Any one of us could book a ticket on that charter and be able to use it.”

Commercial air service offers a significant economic impact, Coultier said Friday during the Concord City Council’s annual retreat.

Concord City Council gave Cloutier permission to look into offering a charter flight service from Concord Regional Airport, but actually seeing it happen is likely a ways off, Mayor Scott Padgett said.

Cloutier told council members and the mayor that nine commercial service airports in north Carolina generate a total economic impact of about $23.9 billion.

Direct impact from air service at those airports is $7 billion annually for 20.9 million passengers, Cloutier said. The average economic impact per airline per flight is $355.

Cloutier presented examples of some of the commercial charter services available.

“The first one would be point to point service,” he said.

It uses a 166-seat MD80 aircraft and flies mostly to leisure destinations. The Orlando-based service would be a strong target for a new service, Cloutier said.

“It would continue to solidify our place with the FAA as a major player,” Cloutier said.

Another potential service discussed is a service that uses a 138-seat Airbus and serves smaller east coast cities to leisure destinations.

Another service uses a 149-seat airbus based in Fort Lauderdale with higher frequency flights.

“We need to position ourselves to be able to serve the region,” Cloutier said.

Contact reporter Karen Cimino Wilson: 704-789-9141.

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