Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Augustine Will Offer Cheap Flights; Skybus Airlines Routes Flights through Columbus and Could Arrive July 1

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Augustine Will Offer Cheap Flights; Skybus Airlines Routes Flights through Columbus and Could Arrive July 1

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTINA ABEL

Jacksonville-area residents could get a new, cheaper way to get out of town beginning July 1 with fares starting at $10.

St. Augustine Airport officials said this week they have been talking with the newly formed Skybus Airlines, which operates out of Columbus, Ohio, about offering the first commercial flights out of the airport, which has been used solely for private aircraft and to overhaul and maintain military aviation hardware.

"A contract hasn't been signed yet," said Suzanne Green, a member of the St. Augustine Airport Authority. "From our discussions, it sounds like it's going to be a good marriage."

Green said St. Augustine was chosen because of its location and the growth of St. Johns County. She said bringing in commercial flights will bring in more business, add a convenient way to travel for businesspeople and provide a local, cost-effective way for people to travel north without driving to Jacksonville International Airport.

Although the flights are set to begin July 1, Green said there is work to do to make sure the airport is ready.

First, it has to change its designation from general to commercial aviation, then it has to build a hangar and terminal for the commercial flights. Green said, however, that service could still begin July 1 without a new terminal or hangar in place.

As part of setting up the terminal, the authority also has to arrange for the Transportation Security Administration to be on hand to screen embarking passengers, which could involve having screeners drive down from Jacksonville. The airport would have walk-through detectors for passengers to use, but luggage would probably be hand-searched and -swabbed for explosives.

Getting the equipment in place would probably take at least four weeks after the TSA official accepts responsibility for handling security, said Ed Goodwin, the federal security director in Jacksonville, whose territory covers St. Augustine. "The timeline for July 1 is really, really, really cutting it close," he said.

Skybus spokesman Bon Tenebaum said Tuesday his company is interested in the St. Augustine airport, but is not ready to announce service. …

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