Fourth round-trip flight at Cape airport provides welcome alternative to layover

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport inaugurated its fourth round-trip flight to St. Louis on Monday. The flight, which will run daily Monday through Friday, departs St. Louis at 12:45 p.m. and departs Cape Girardeau at 2:15 p.m.

Five passengers took advantage of the mid-day flight which arrived at 1:38 p.m. Among them were Scott and Karen Matthews from Sikeston, Mo., returning from an outdoor trade show in Las Vegas.

"This is wonderful," said Scott Matthews. "We were scheduled for a later flight and were expecting a long layover. There's never been a flight in the middle of the day before; it's always been get into St. Louis and then it's cool your jets for a couple hours."

It is that sort of convenience that airport manager Bruce Loy hopes will make these new flights a success.

"We wanted to add additional variables for people to keep their layover time to a minimum," he said. "Because right now if you've got more than two hours on the ground that's really the dividing line between whether or not people are going to decide to fly or drive."

Previously there was as much as a five- and-a-half-hour layover in St. Louis for some passengers arriving mid-day.

Loy said he hopes the new flight will raise passenger levels and maybe give the airport the boost it needs to qualify for federal grant money. Currently the regional airport has approximately 7,500 passengers yearly. Any airport with more than 10,000 passengers per year qualifies for a minimum of $1 million under the Federal Airport Improvement Program.

"That's the ultimate goal, but if this new flight could take us up to 9,000 [passengers yearly] this would be a real success," said Loy. "We're planning additional newspaper and television advertisements to get the word out."

The Matthews did not realize they were on the inaugural flight of the new time. They were surprised to be met by cameras and applause from airport and city officials commemorating the event.

"I'm used to being followed by the paparazzi, but I'm going to have to talk to my agent about this," joked Scott Matthews.

The fee for a round-trip flight to St. Louis is $65, although airport officials warn that price can only be guaranteed if passengers call the airport or book the flight through AA.com.

Other departures for St. Louis occur at 6:28 a.m. Monday through Saturday, 10:38 a.m. Monday through Saturday, 11:45 a.m. Sunday, and 4:30 p.m. Sunday through Friday.

tgreaney@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245

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