07/19/05 — Lenoir officials say response to service has been good

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Lenoir officials say response to service has been good

By Turner Walston
Published in News on July 19, 2005 1:49 PM

JetKinston, the Delta passenger flight connection at Kinston Regional Jetport, has exceeded expectations during its first three months in business, say Lenoir County officials.

"We could not be more pleased," said John Marshall, co-chairman of the Lenoir County Committee of 100's air service committee. "The number of passengers that have flown has exceeded our expectations."

The JetKinston carrier, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, is a subsidiary of Delta and connects with the airline's hub in Atlanta.

Marshall said it's not just Kinston residents that are taking advantage of the new service.

"I have asked people and paid attention myself to who else is on the plane," he said. "I've lived here 17 years, and I have known no one on the plane. That's a sign that people from Goldsboro, Green-ville and New Bern are using the service," he said.

"They really seem to be enjoying it," he said, referring to the passengers he has met. "They like the fact that they don't have to drive to Raleigh-Durham. They like parking near the terminal, and free parking."

Stephen Frazier, station agent for Atlantic Southeast Airlines, said business has steadily increased since service began.

"We were running about half-way," Frazier said. "We're steadily increasing our bookings."

Three months since, he said, flights are about two-thirds full on average.

Frazier said a round-trip ticket to Atlanta booked three weeks in advance is currently $228.

Dr. Ed Wilson, president of Wayne Community College, returned from upstate New York via JetKinston on Monday.

"It's very convenient," Wilson said. "You can get here an hour before your flight. It takes me 30 minutes from my house."

Sarah Casey of Goldsboro has used the JetKinston service to travel to Kentucky and San Antonio, Texas.

"I can't say enough good about it," she said.

Mrs. Casey, who is legally blind, said the Delta staff have been very helpful when she flies.

She said she preferred flying to taking a train.

"If I can't get where I want to go from Kinston, I just don't want to go," she said.

Marshall said JetKinston officials are working to further expand the service, possibly adding an afternoon departure to increase convenience for connecting flights.

"There are times when, if you fly to Atlanta, you may have a great connection, but there are times when your connection's not so great," Marshall said. He said a mid-afternoon departure would probably be popular.

Since opening, Marshall said the terminal has added a gift shop, coffee shop, two rental car agencies, and a taxi service.

"There's quite a bit of action in the terminal," he said.

Marshall said the enhancements are intended to help travelers enjoy the experience.

"We're trying to think of some things outside the box," he said. "When you check in, you get a ticket for a muffin and coffee for free. If somebody shows up with a golf bag, we give them a sleeve of golfballs," Marshall said.

"It used to be fun to go somewhere, and now it's a big hassle. We want to make it fun to travel."

JetKinston flights to Atlanta are offered three times daily. Departures are at 6:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. Flights arrive in Kinston at 10:28 a.m., 5:07 p.m. and 9:39 p.m.