Branson, Mo., Dec. 11, 2008 — The Branson Airport, the first privately financed and operated commercial service airport in the United States, announced today that AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of Air Tran Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AAI), will be the first national network carrier to serve the new airport when it opens in May 2009. The announcement was made today at a joint news conference at the airport.
As part of the event, airport officials, along with AirTran Airways executives and area civic leaders witnessed the first landing of a commercial aircraft — an AirTran Airways-Boeing 717 — on the airport’s 7,140-foot runway. Guests were invited to tour the terminal facility under construction for the new Branson Airport and the jetliner, which is the same type of aircraft that will service the Branson Airport.
Founded in 1993, AirTran Airways is one of America’s largest low-fare airlines and offers quality jet service with more than 700 daily flights to over 50 destinations. AirTran Airways is the second largest carrier at the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Ga.
“This is the manifestation of all our hard work to make this airport a reality. AirTran Airways is a perfect fit for the Branson Airport,” said Steve Peet, CEO, Branson Airport. “Daily, nonstop, low-cost air travel to and from Branson was the goal when we started this project. We are thrilled that the No. 1 ranked airline in the 2008 Airline Quality Rating study is our first national carrier.”
Construction on the airport began in July 2007 and will have taken 22 months to complete when the airport opens for business next May. “I want to applaud the hard work and dedication of the entire Branson Airport team, and the generous support of our friends in the Branson community for making today’s announcement possible,” said Jeff Bourk, executive director, Branson Airport.
The Branson Airport is located on 922 acres in the Ozark Mountains, just 8 minutes south of the city of Branson. As the country’s first privately funded airport, Branson Airport will offer visitors unparalleled hospitality and service steeped in the generous, welcoming spirit of the Ozarks.
“We are so happy to welcome AirTran Airways as the first airline to offer daily nonstop commercial airline service to Branson,” said Hon. Raeanne Presley, mayor of Branson. “Now, our visitors have more options to get to Branson, and so do our area residents who wish to travel from Branson.”
Ross Summers, president/CEO of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau, agreed. “Knowing that the new Branson Airport will have a first-class carrier like AirTran Airways serving the airport on day one, is music to our ears here in the Ozarks, as we look forward to welcoming a whole new generation of visitors to the Ozarks.”
AirTran Airways will offer roundtrip nonstop flights between Branson Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Ga., beginning May 11, 2009, when the Branson Airport begins operations.