Albert J. Ellis Airport applying for grant to increase direct flights

Jacksonville

An eastern North Carolina airport is looking to secure more direct flights.

Albert J. Ellis Airport, located in Onslow County, is applying for a federal grant up to $700,000 through the Small Community Air Service Development Program.

“We’re seeking additional connections. That’s the number one thing passengers are asking for, is more direct flights,” said Chris White, airport director at Albert J. Ellis Airport.

Staff is seeking more direct flights, specifically to Fort Worth-Dallas, Texas and Washington D.C. The airport once serviced the Washington D.C. but was discontinued after the merger between U.S. Airways and American Airlines.

Currently, the Albert J. Ellis offers two direct flights to Atlanta and Charlotte.

White says the airport stands a good chance of securing the grant. The funds are used for a revenue guarantee, marketing support, and help defray some of the startup cost.

“We also made enough of an investment of matching funds to show our community that we’re serious about this.”

If the services to Washington D.C. or Fort Worth-Dallas, Texas aren’t available, other destinations are possible.

But White added the grant does not guarantee the service of more direct flights. The airline carriers will make the final decision.

“We have to make a very strong business case to the airlines and we have to demonstrate as a community that we will fill those airplanes.”

In 2006, the airport applied for a grant and began working with Delta airlines.

“That grant was so successful in attracting and retaining air service that we said we’ll do it again,” said White.

Airport officials say the grant can offer more opportunities for passengers and facilitate economic development in the area. They expect to hear back from the U.S. Department of Transportation later this fall.

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