SANDY BERGER: Moore County's Little Airport That Could
The little Moore County Airport that sits at the corner of N.C. 22 and Airport Road has transformed itself into a tiny dynamo.
Not only has the airport attracted Delta Airlines, but also it has filled planes beyond expectations and has turned a profit.
After 9/11, the airport was open only to general aviation.
In the past few months, however, visitors and residents have flown from Pinehurst to 107 different cities, including several international destinations.
Two powerful forces have come together to propel this airport to the winner's circle: a tech savvy airport manager, Ron Maness and technology itself. With more than 25 years in the airline business, Maness has witnessed the emerging technologies that have come to the aid of the troubled airline industry, and he has embraced them for his little airport.
Today's airlines are tech intensive even though much of the technology is not visible to the public. The Moore County Airport makes use of all the technology available.
Weight and balance of the planes, flight plans, and fuel burns are all calculated electronically. Flight times are adjusted to suit the majority of the passengers as determined by the computer. Reservations and ticketing can all be done electronically.
The general aviation area of the airport tracks fuel sales and account billings electronically. Maness says that "technology is crucial to the everyday operations of the airport."
There were challenges. Because of its remote location, the airport could not get the DSL Internet service that is used by others in the Delta system. That didn't stop Ron, he worked out the glitches and became the only station in the entire Delta system that uses wireless Internet.
By the way, the Moore County Airport also makes that wireless Internet service available to passengers for free. So if you fly in or out of here, be sure to bring your laptop.
The Moore County Airport has the newest Transportation Security Administration equipment available. The $200,000 cost of that equipment was a small price to pay to make sure that even though it is one of the smallest airports, it is also one of the safest.
Current Delta flights are scheduled six days a week from March 14 to Nov. 13. Maness doesn't think that's good enough. He is working to get Pinehurst seven-day-a-week, year-round service.
He thinks that our area can support two flights a day versus the one that is currently scheduled. He is using computerized spreadsheets to track each passenger, their flight times, and their destinations to convince Delta that they need to add another flight.
If anyone can do it, Ron and his "Little Airport that Could" certainly can!
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your comments and questions on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compu kiss.com/ckmessageboard.
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