Commonwealth Journal

Local News

April 4, 2009

A NEW DAY: Locair takes over commuter service

Somerset — The skies over Lake Cumberland Regional Airport are gray and cloudy — but no worry for “The City of Somerset,” the twin-engine turboprop plane which rests idle on the tarmac.

Inside the $3 million, state-of-the-art terminal, Nate Vallier is describing a parting of the clouds — in a symbolic sense. Any concern about the future of commercial air service was grounded in a meeting of the airport board earlier Friday, Vallier suggested, and Locair is ready to chart a new course into the future.

“It’s a new day,” said Vallier, general manager of Locair Inc., the small airline taking over the scheduled flights at the local airport. “We’re ready to move forward.”

Florida-based Locair had provided the airplane, equipment and pilots for local flights, and another company, Air Azul, had essentially served as a marketing and scheduling firm, making reservations and promoting the operation within the community.

The two split within the last couple of weeks, however, putting Air Azul out of the picture and leaving some uncertainty as to whether the battle Pulaski officials waged for so long — striving to bring scheduled flights to Somerset — would fail so quickly after it began last December.

“We really had two choices,” said Vallier. “Our choices were either to shut things down, or to take over the booking ourselves.”

The latter option became reality. Plans are for Locair (pronounced as “lock air”) to set up its own ticketing system in a hurry, with a Web site — www.locair.net — expected to be up as early as Monday. Customers can also call 877-359-4160 — or 877-FLY-4160 — for scheduling information.

The details of why the split between Locair and Air Azul occurred are still being held close to the vest of those involved. Vallier would only say that it was a matter of “additional paperwork” required by the Department of Transportation from Air Azul that had caused the problem.

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