Wednesday, 14 February 2007 00:00
Mid Keys AirportWritten by WGCU Newsroom
An almost seven-year void will be filled Thursday when commercial air service returns to the middle Florida Keys.
Delta Connection’s daily, nonstop roundtrip service from Atlanta to Florida Keys Marathon Airport will begin. For almost four years, businesses and residents of the Keys worked with Monroe County officials to attract airlines back to the Marathon airport terminal. The last regularly scheduled commercial flight departed Marathon in April 2000.
Monroe County Airports Director Peter Horton says the route is already very popular for a new market.
“Delta told me that February is booked at 63% and March is booked at 67%. That’s absolutely outstanding for a new market and most importantly the bookings in Key West remain strong showing that we’re not siphoning passengers from Key West to Marathon. It’s a totally new market.”
Almost 4 million dollars was raised to refurbish the airport. County officials agreed to waive ramp fees, provide rent-free counter space and free parking.
The event almost didn’t happen after the Transportation Security Administration first said it wouldn’t staff the refurbished airport. It later reversed the decision after the community protested and enlisted the help of local Congressmen and women.
Commercial airline service returns to Marathon in the Florida Keys Thursday after a 7 year absence.
In 2000 some small Florida airports including in Vero Beach, Daytona and Marathon lost their commercial air service. Marathon tried 3 times before succeeding in 2005 in getting federal money to entice an airline to come back. Now Delta Connection begins daily non-stop service to Atlanta.
Monroe County Airports Director Peter Horton says he had to work out a deal to get the Transportation Security Administration to allow it.
“So that we could have legacy carriers or first line carriers serve us and not become an economic burden to the TSA and we did that through a program called the SPP or the screening partnership program.”
The Marathon airport is in the center of the Florida Keys which means that virtually all of the Keys are within an hour-and-a-half in any direction.
Delta's new service is to be operated by a regional jet that accommodates 40 passengers.