Commonwealth Journal

Local News

October 6, 2013

Subsidy needed to launch commuter air service

(Continued)

Somerset —

Emphasizing the companies’ sterling reputations in the airline industry, Shearer and Schmidt reiterated: “If we can raise the money, we have the service.”  They said the two companies making the joint proposal really believe a commuter service out of Lake Cumberland Regional Airport can be profitable.
A recently completed regional survey of airline travelers indicates a robust market in this Southern Kentucky area for a commuter airline service at Lake Cumberland Regional Airport.
Released by the development foundation, the survey indicates a potential annual enplanement of 142,166 passengers who would use airline service in and out of the Somerset airport. “This is not just Pulaski County ... this is the region,” Schmidt said. He called airline service a tremendous trigger for economic development.
Shearer and Schmidt said attractiveness of commuter service in Somerset would be convenient location, time saved and free parking.
“We could be ready to go in four or five months after a source of funds is identified,” Shearer said. Public Charters would be responsible for ticket distribution, passenger check-in, boarding, baggage, cargo handling and all other ground functions. Corporate Flight Management, serving as the direct carrier, would be solely responsible for flying, aircraft, aircraft maintenance and flight crews.
Screening of passengers would be done at Lake Cumberland Regional Airport’s state-of-the-art terminal, making it quick and easy to board flights out of Nashville.
Schmidt said the two carriers making the proposal for commuter service in and out of Somerset assure a rigid flight schedule to and from Nashville. Only interruptions would be weather or mechanical problems.
“We’ve worked for three years to bring this project to fruition and we believe this is just the type of service we need in order to re-launch passenger air service successfully in this market,” Shearer said. “While we still have some hurdles to overcome, we are pleased to be at this particular point,” he added.
A Florida-based commuter airline operated out of Lake Cumberland Regional Airport, first to Nashville and then to Washington, D.C., for a little more than two years. It was subsidized with about $900,000 obtained by Congressman Hal Rogers from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $100,000 in local matching funds. No sustaining local source of funding developed before the federal funds were exhausted and the airline shut down February 19, 2010.

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