Flight Cuts at Macon Airport Irk Some

Atlantic Southeast Airlines cut its flight schedule after the TSA downgraded the airport's security rating, thus limiting the size of the airplanes that could fly out of the airport.

Transportation officials at Robins do not keep a breakdown of flights to and from Macon, but said that Robins employees can arrange to fly out of Macon or Atlanta. Betty Pubanz, a passenger travel supervisor with the 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron, said her five-member section arranges all official air travel for civilians and military on the base.

In an typical week, Pubanz said, she arranges more than 300 flights out of Macon or Atlanta, though she said to this point there hasn't been a change in preferences.

"I really haven't noticed a difference," said Pubanz, who has been working at the base since 1981. "They've always been able to choose what airport they travel out of."

The preferences have changed overall, according to one business. Groome Transportation, which operates a shuttle service from Macon and Warner Robins to Hartsfield-Jackson, has seen a big jumps recently.

Nearly every run is full, said Vince Groome, president of the company.

"Absolutely, I would tell you that has something to do with it because we compete with that (air) service," Groome said.

Pesko said that the flights that ASA kept in Macon are meant to allow business people to fly out in the morning and fly back in the evening, completing their travel all in one day, she said.

"The two regional jet flights operating today are geared toward the business traveler - they depart early in the morning and return in the evening," Pesko said.

However, many of the business travelers at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport on Friday said the flights were at least inconvenient, if not downright inefficient.

David Witteried, a civilian Air Force worker, had been working at Robins Air Force Base before heading home Friday on the 7:25 a.m. flight. Witteried said he would have preferred a later flight, as he headed back to California.

"I had to get up early and being from back west it's really early for me," he said.

Paul Woodlief, a civilian worker with the Department of Defense, was flying to Richmond, Va., Friday morning, but would have worked for the remainder of the day at Robins, he said.

"I don't have any complaints or anything, but I would have flown out at 6 p.m. if I could have and gotten a flight," he said.

Jeff and Edith Jeffers were flying to Norfolk on Friday morning for a visit. The two are retired, but Edith worked for Avon as a district sales manager and division sales manager for 18 years. She said she often used the airport because it was too slow to fly out of Atlanta.

When she learned about the changes in flights she thought back to her days in the work force and what the current schedule might have done to her.

"I never would have made a meeting or anything - I would have always been late," she said.

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