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Delta Airlines adds flight to Atlanta from Albert J. Ellis
[January 29, 2007]

Delta Airlines adds flight to Atlanta from Albert J. Ellis

(Daily News, The (Jacksonville, NC) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Jan. 29--Thirty-seven days.

That's all it took for Onslow's Albert J. Ellis Airport to land another flight to Atlanta from Delta Airlines, the latest venture in what's becoming a fast-growing relationship between the local airport and the nation's third-largest airline.

In December, Ellis Airport began offering two daily flights on two 40-seat Delta jets running in and out of the airport to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Before the addition of the new flights, Ellis was only served by US Airways, which offers eight daily flights to Charlotte as well as a Tuesday direct flight to Philadelphia.

On March 2, an additional flight to and from Atlanta will begin. Departing Onslow at 2:51 p.m., the flight will be offered Sunday through Friday.

"We hoped from day one that we would be able to do that," Ellis Airport director Jerry Vickers said. "They put two flights out here and the people responded. ... This is great."

Thanks to numerous advance bookings, and with only one Delta flight cancellation since the new flights began, Vickers says the success could pave the way for even more additional flights in the future.

"I think there's opportunities to continue to expand," Vickers said. "It's purely a function of our market. Airlines are in the business to make money and put people in the seats. (Delta's) happy with what we've done so far."

Yet, as successful as Delta continues to be here locally, the major carrier is facing some major uncertainties outside the confines of Onslow County.

In an effort to emerge from bankruptcy, Delta is trying to move forward with a reorganization plan, remain a stand-alone company and avoid a potential buyout from US Airways. On Feb. 7, a hearing will be held to vote on a disclosure statement of Delta's proposed plan, with a final vote on whether to approve the plan to be held later this spring.

Whatever's decided, Vickers says the issue presents a number of concerns for the local airport.

"It's such a complex deal and it's impossible to say at this point, but a reorganization merge like that could put us in a situation where there's concerns of consolidation and a reduction of the number of flights here," Vickers said. "I think one of the big unknowns is what becomes of the hub in Charlotte. How is that reshaped in terms of a new Delta entity serving that?"

Vickers says he has been contacted by both Delta Airlines and US Airways representatives regarding the potential merger, informing them that the local airport would remain neutral throughout the negotiation process.

Vickers said he'd rather focus on what's going on right now rather than what might be. "We're excited about the new flight. Delta feels like the market has done fairly well," Vickers said. "There's a lot of growth we can do with the folks we're dancing with now."

Contact staff writer Micah Massei at or 353-1171, ext. 237.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.
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