Feb. 25--Bob Whitmer, manager of the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport, isn't sure if the airport's market can support additional flights to vacation destinations in Florida or out west, but he plans to discuss the prospect with Allegiant Air officials this week in Mesa, Ariz.
Allegiant, which operates popular twice-weekly, low-cost flights from the Owensboro airport to Orlando, Fla., will hold its annual conference Tuesday through Thursday with officials of the 70 smaller airports the carrier uses. Whitmer told the airport board of directors last week that he intends to be there and plans to encourage Allegiant to consider adding Owensboro flights, probably to one of its other Florida destinations.
In additional to Orlando, Allegiant flies to St. Petersburg, Punta Gorda and Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Its other primary destinations are Mesa (Phoenix area), Las Vegas and San Diego. Service to Hawaii has recently been added as well, Whitmer said.
"Everybody will be trying to promote more flights for their airports," Whitmer said.
Whitmer said Allegiant's flights back and forth between Orlando and Owensboro have been successful, which is an important factor when seeking additional flights.
"I'll try to convince them to give us a shot at more Florida flights," Whitmer said. "They are a very flexible airline. They have the ability to try things. I can go out there and boast about our numbers and try to get consideration for flights."
Previously, Allegiant operated flights to Las Vegas from Owensboro, but those were dropped in August.
Whitmer and airport board member Andrew Ward plan to travel March 11 to the Parking Industry Exhibition at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., near Chicago O'Hare International Airport, where Whitmer hopes to find an affordable automated parking system.
"I will try to find out if there is a reasonably priced automated system," Whitmer said. "We have a cumbersome, manual system, not a good system."
People who park their vehicles overnight at the Owensboro airport are required to pay the $5-per-night charge by filling out a form and putting the payment in an envelope near the terminal entrance.
More than 120 exhibitors will have their equipment on display at the exhibition.
Whitmer said the airport needs a completely automated parking fee system that doesn't require an employee.
"I bid it already, but we got little response, and it was too expensive," Whitmer said.
The airport's new, much larger luggage carousel installed at a cost of more than $200,000 as part of the terminal expansion last year has experienced intermittent mechanical problems involving the machine's belt and doors. But Whitmer said the carousel was repaired under warranty on Thursday and was working fine for Friday's Allegiant flights.
The new carousel is about three times as large as the one it replaced, Whitmer said.
Steve Vied, 691-7297, email@example.com
Copyright 2013 - Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
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