05/11/05 — Chamber hears details on Delta deal

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Chamber hears details on Delta deal

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 11, 2005 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- A man from Kinston pitched his town's airport and Delta Airlines to chamber members Monday during lunch at Bo's Cafe.

Kenansville is in the marketing area for Delta's non-stop flights, said Jerry Kanter, a member of Lenoir County's Committee of 100. He and three other members of the organization's Aviation Committee wooed Delta Airlines for four years to land the non-stop flights to Atlanta, which started April 1. Delta provides six flights a day, three incoming and three outgoing.

"Everything they said they'd do, they have done," said Kanter. He said Delta chose Kinston because it's surrounded by more than 1 million people within 30 miles, it has had a history of prior commercial flight operations and the company saw a need for commercial flight service east of Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Kenansville Chamber President Patrick Bell said RDU officials advised him to be at that airport three hours in advance. He said he "spent 45 minutes finding a place to park and waited in line two hours to check baggage."

Kanter said the operation at Kinston is "user-friendly." It has rapid baggage handling and efficient security checks. It has 300 parking spaces, all free.

Kanter said 200 cars were parked there Monday morning when he left the airport to come to Kenansville.

"We're selling a lot of convenience out of Kinston," he said. Hotels and restaurant are easier to get to than in Raleigh-Durham, he said, and there's less traffic and congestion.

The airport at Kinston started out in 1942 as an auxiliary air field during World War II to support Cherry Point.

Today, the airport is owned by the Global TransPark Authority.

Kanter said the airport is a primary emergency landing station for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. If BRAC were to close the base, he said, the airport would not be able to accomplish some of the things it has.

"Part of our life's blood is over there," he said about the base. "Their dollars cross from Wayne County over into Lenoir County, too."