Improvements Being Made to Attract Airline Service
Airline service can't return soon enough to Charlotte County
Airport in Punta Gorda, FL for airport director Gary Quill. The
question is, will the government be accomodating to those ambitious
Quill tells the Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune as far as
infrastructure goes, the airport is nearly ready. All lighting and
signage is in place, there's plenty of room for parking -- even for
rental car companies -- and construction of a new 16,000
square-foot terminal is underway.
"If you're talking in terms of capability, yes, we do have it,"
Quill hopes to attract the attention of upstart low-cost carrier
Skybus, which serves major metropolitan areas via distant regional
airports -- all for dirt-cheap fares. He believes an airline like
Skybus could florish at PGD... but the question isn't one of
interest, but bureaucracy.
The airport is involved in ongoing discussions with the FAA and
Transportation Security Administration regarding the legal issues.
Quill believes the latter poses the biggest hurdle, however, due to
the onus of arranging security at the airport.
The TSA states an airport the size of PGD would require five
screeners per shift, as well as an x-ray machine and a metal
detector -- all for fairly limited commercial service. The
government fronts the cost of the equipment -- about $60,000 -- and
pays screeners anywhere from $23,600 to $35,400 per year. The
airport would have to construct a secure area for them to work.
Agency spokeswoman Sari Koshetz says the TSA is willing to work
with the airport.
"We have been talking to the airport, and what the airport needs
to have happen is FAA certification and then we have to approve
their airport security plans," Koshetz told the Herald-Tribune. "If
approved, we would come in there and support them."