Naples Municipal Airport to offer commercial flights again

— Commercial flights will return to Naples Municipal Airport just over a year after the last airline left.

Beginning Nov. 1, Las Vegas-based Vision Airlines will offer flights to Miami five times a day with reduced service on weekends and to Atlanta twice a day Sunday through Friday with one flight on Saturday.

Vision will fly 30-seat, Dornier 328 Turbo Prop planes.

The airport authority board received the news during a meeting Thursday.

“It’s good news,” Naples Airport Authority Chairman John Allen said.

In October 2008, Yellow Air Taxi, operated by Friendship Airways, ran its last flight out of the airport. The Fort Lauderdale-based service flew between Naples and Key West.

Continental Airlines stopped services between Naples, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale at the end of May.

“I’m extremely pleased,” Airport Executive Director Ted Soliday said.

The new service will benefit local residents and bring tourism to Collier County, said Jack Wert, executive director of the Greater Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Commercial service to Miami and Atlanta is important to the area because the international market uses those airports as a primary port of entry, Wert said.

“I think it will certainly help in attracting people who might want to get directly to Naples or Marco Island,” he said.

The local community, both residents and businesses, have always been supportive of commercial airlines at Naples airport, Wert said. Unfortunately, the airlines have not been able to continue service, he said.

Vision Airlines officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

On its Web site, the airline touts itself as one of the premier charter airlines in the United States.

The airline’s customers include the NCAA, several large gaming companies, resort destinations and concert tours and other group travel. It also provides service for other airlines on an interim and seasonal basis.

Its past clients have included NBA franchises, Major League Baseball and NASCAR teams, the team states on its Web site.

The airline’s fleet of aircraft ranges from 19-seat propeller planes to 168-seat jets.

Vision Airlines started in Las Vegas in 1994, primarily as a Grand Canyon tour airline. The company expanded into on-demand air charter, and business jet sales and management.

The airline’s core business now consists of specialized air charter and the Grand Canyon tour business, according to its Web site.

In other action, the termination last week of the airport authority’s noise abatement officer was a source of some concern.

Bill Confoy, who is a member of the airport’s Noise Compatibility Committee, said he is concerned the community may get the wrong impression of what the airport is doing about noise.

Confoy said he was also concerned the person who replaced the noise abatement officer wouldn’t be able to do the job, Confoy said.

The noise abatement responsibilities have been reassigned to the manager of commercial terminal and security.

Commissioners stressed the public’s noise concerns would continue to be one of the airport’s top priorities.

“We will not have any reduction in terms of noise abatement at the airport,” commissioner Ernest Linneman said.

In other agenda items, the airport could receive more than $900,000 in stimulus funding from the Department of Transportation. Once those funds are secured, officials would use the money to reconstruct the 40-year-old south taxiway, Soliday said.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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