EDITORIAL: Working For Return Of Airliner Service
This is not a particularly hopeful time for the Moore County Airport to be trying to recruit a new airline to restore passenger service here.
But it's a good time for laying groundwork to be put to use when conditions are right.
The economic weather has been bleak for the airline industry for a number of years, even preceding the 2001 terrorism attacks. It took only a few months after 9/11 for one commercial airline to drop passenger service at the Moore County Airport, and the county has not been able to keep successful passenger service in operation since then.
The Airport Authority's airline recruitment task force, chaired by banker Hugh Bingham, has good-naturedly soldiered on despite the sluggishness of the economy. Instead of throwing up its collective hands in despair, the task force has continued to make contacts and gather supporting documentation to attract an airline. The seven members know the economy will eventually turn around, and when that happens, they're ready to sell their product.
And they have a most marvelously attractive product.
Lots of Potential Customers
Not only is Moore County a beautiful and lively place to work, live and play, but it is also a place with eager potential customers for airline service. Pinehurst, with its vast network of golf courses and related tourism attractions, is the hub, but not the only attraction.
The key is to persuade an airline to craft service that fills the needs of the Moore County customer base and at the same time fits the financial requirements of the airline. The task force understands that the airline must make a profit. But to achieve that profit, the company must be willing to fit its service into the niche that is Moore County.
The task force is looking at a variety of ideas. The main target, Bingham says, is a large commercial company that can offer practical connecting flights with a major hub. Most traffic to and from Moore County is directed toward Washington and New York, and the task force is looking for an airline that can provide the most direct connection to those destinations. Members are interested in making it easy and attractive for business fliers to arrive at a reasonable morning hour and depart at a reasonable hour in late afternoon. They know the schedules of our people.
Task force members are not confining their attention to big airline companies. Bingham says they are looking at charter flights and entrepreneurs and other alternatives.
That's the right approach. The important goal is to nail a convenient means of transporting people to Moore County and helping them return home. The next priority is to encourage visitors to invest here or make their homes here.
Moore County is such an attractive destination that it almost sells itself, but Bingham points out that the airport has attractions of its own. Among its benefits are free parking, the simplicity of the security process and the short distance from homes or businesses.
Bingham makes a great point when he adds that each Moore County resident is a likely salesperson for prospective airline service or new business. It's wise to remember that we must put our best foot forward if we expect to attain the best possible service. That makes each of us an ambassador for our community's future.
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