One additional hurdle in adding international service to Little Rock: There's no customs area. Because the terminal will either be rebuilt or expanded in the coming years, they're not ready to spend money on setting up a customs area, Launius said.
"We don't want to waste money on a facility that may or may not fit into our future plans," Launius said.
Instead, the flight will have to stop at another U.S. airport to go through customs before arriving at Little Rock. Another possible solution would be for the federal government to allow for the customs office to be in Mexico. Canada has "preclearance" for U.S. customs at some of its airports, and the Mexican government is pushing hard for the same privilege, Launius said.
Other data in the market study found that in a comparison of the summers of 2000 and 2007, seat capacity has decreased by 18 percent.
In 2007, the airport retained 91 percent of its passengers, down from 99 percent in 2001. The study showed that of the primary area of travelers, 5 percent used Memphis International Airport and 4 percent used other airports in Arkansas.
"Having that high of a retention rate is very unusual," Pickering said in an interview after the commission meeting.
In a comparison of fares, Mead & Hunt found that Little Rock had lower prices in 20 of the top 25 markets, and Little Rock's average one-way domestic fares were $26 lower than those in Memphis.
This article was published 09/19/2007
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