October 10, 2002
Community incentives help land new airline at Purdue Dec. 1
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Purdue University and Greater Lafayette business and government officials announced today (Thursday, 10/10) that on Dec.1 Corporate Airlines' AmericanConnection will begin offering three daily departures from the Purdue Airport to American Airlines' St. Louis hub.
AmericanConnection, a regional partner for American Airlines, was offered a one-time incentive package worth almost $100,000 to begin Lafayette service, airport director Betty M. Stansbury said.
More than $60,000 of the package was raised by Mike Brooks, president of Greater Lafayette Progress Inc., and Dana Smith, president of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. These funds, which will be used to market and advertise the new service, came from the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Purdue Research Park, Greater Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau, Greater Lafayette Community Development Corporation, Lafayette Urban Enterprise Zone and the Greater Lafayette Community Foundation.
The remaining amount of the incentive package will be made up through waiver of airport fees, hotel room discounts and reductions of airport office rental rates, Stansbury said.
Tickets for the Lafayette service's first flights will go on sale Oct. 20.
"Retention of airline service in the Greater Lafayette area is important to economic development as well as to the business community, the university and local governments," Brooks said. "Airlines today are looking for communities to share some of the risk of introducing new service to a community. On very short notice, these community leaders demonstrated their desire to keep airline service in our community."
Smith said he was pleased with AmericanConnection's willingness to work with officials in selecting a schedule that should appeal to most of the community.
"With three daily departures around 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m., and with the last arrival in the evening at around 9 p.m., we can get our business done across the country and still be home at a reasonable hour," Smith said. "And the convenience of the hometown airport can't be beat."
Today's announcement came less than a month after Northwest Airlink, the only commercial airline serving the Purdue Airport, announced in September it would cancel its service effective Dec. 18. That decision came after community leaders declined to pay Northwest's request for a $500,000 annual subsidy to keep the service. Stansbury said the airline had been losing money on its service for the past year. Northwest officials said the airline lost about $300,000 last year on Lafayette service and had to reevaluate whether to stay in this market.
Corporate Airlines is a privately held company with headquarters in Smyrna, Tenn. It began operations in December 1996. The company currently operates daily non-stop flights as AmericanConnection between Nashville, Atlanta, Tri-Cities and St. Louis. In addition, the company provides service in the Midwest as AmericanConnection between St. Louis and 10 destinations as a regional partner for American Airlines.
The Purdue Airport, located on the West Lafayette campus, was the first university-owned airport in the nation.
Writer: Writer: Grant Flora, (765) 494-2073, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Betty M. Stansbury, (765) 743-3442, email@example.com
Mike Brooks, (765) 742-0095
Dana Smith, (765) 742-4041
Corporate Airlines Offices, (615) 223-5644
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org