New Bern Draws Delta with Incentives

NEW BERN, N.C. -- Delta Air Lines is coming to New Bern, lured by the promise of tens of thousands of dollars in incentives.

Delta Connection will begin two daily round-trip flights to Atlanta on May 6 using 40-seat Bombardier regional jets flown by the carrier's Atlantic Southeast Airlines commuter affiliate.

The flights will give residents of the Eastern North Carolina city direct access to a second major airline hub in Atlanta. Currently, U.S. Airways Express offers seven daily round-trip flights to Charlotte from New Bern.

Airport officials agreed to waive landing fees and rent worth about $50,000 a year and to use a $50,000 federal grant to market and promote the flights. In return, Delta agreed to maintain the service through 2008, said John Price a member of the Craven County Regional Airport Authority and retired airport director.

But Delta also wants revenue guarantees from the airport, Price said. The amount of the guarantee is being negotiated, but any payments would come from airport revenue, not tax dollars, he said.

"We still don't know the exact figure but we're prepared to take that risk because we think the community will support them," Price said of the guarantee.

Jacksonville last month got two Delta flights after local officials offered incentives worth up to $700,000. Kinston gave Delta at least $285,000 in incentives when it began service there in 2005, but the airline yanked the service in January.

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