Cincinnati option

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The concept of taking a commuter flight to a hub in Cincinnati instead of in St. Louis is difficult for many in the Cape Girardeau region to accept. But that's the scenario the U.S. Department of Transportation has in mind for connecting flights in and out of the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. Its decision in favor of Big Sky Airlines to provide shuttle service between Cape Girardeau and Cincinnati was announced Friday.

The Airport Advisory Board had recommended Big Sky Airlines' service to Cincinnati over three other carriers' options. Those options included continuing the service to and from St. Louis currently provided by RegionsAir. Great Lakes Airlines' service to St. Louis was the low bidder.

Big Sky Airlines, based in Billings, Mont., made bids with both St. Louis or Cincinnati as hubs. The Airport Advisory Board and the city council chose the Cincinnati option. Cincinnati's Northern Kentucky International Airport offers 380 daily flights, more than double the amount available in St. Louis. Big Sky operates as an affiliate of Delta Airlines.

One issue the Airport Advisory Board and the council must have considered strongly was the current carrier's service record, which has been unreliable in recent months with many canceled flights. The Federal Aviation Administration last week grounded the RegionsAir, and the airline shut down all of its flights Thursday, leaving no service here.

Big Sky Airlines has a record of good service. Dependable service will go a long way toward selling the public on this seemingly awkward idea of flying to Cincinnati to catch connecting flights. Competitive fares will too.

The nightmare, given the current mixed-up state of air travel, would be for passengers to some destinations being forced to fly from Cape Girardeau to Cincinnati and then to St. Louis to make a connecting flight. That would be a long way to go.

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