11/15/05 — Delta to cut Kinston flights from 3 to 2

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Delta to cut Kinston flights from 3 to 2

By Turner Walston
Published in News on November 15, 2005 1:49 PM

Delta Airline's decision to reduce daily flights at the Kinston Regional Jetport was a product of changes in the airline industry, not traffic in Kinston, said a company spokesman.

Delta carrier Atlantic Southeast Airlines announced it will scale back from three flights to two out of Kinston beginning Dec. 1. Afternoon departures and arrivals will end. Morning and evening flights will continue.

"This shift in service is not a reflection of what has happened in the Kinston market in terms of traffic," said Todd Bailey, spokesman for ASA. "It is driven by the challenges and the dynamics in the industry."

Delta filed for bankruptcy in September. In January, the airline will completely discontinue flights at Hickory Regional Airport. Bailey said the moves came as part of the company's effort to "rightsize" capacity domestically, and re-deploy aircraft internationally. He said the changes will allow the airline to provide more options for international travelers.

"The expansion internationally will be good news to Kinston customers," Bailey said. "We have been pleased with customer response to the new service in Kinston but the challenges facing the airline industry, Delta's transformation plan and the high cost of fuel are necessitating significant adjustments as well as changes to Delta's overall network, including flight schedules."

Bailey said JetKinston would still be convenient for business travelers, who will still be able to depart and return to Kinston in the same day. "They can return that evening on the 8:16 p.m. flight so they can sleep in their own beds."

With the change in schedule comes a change in aircraft. To help offset an increase in passengers, Bailey said, one of the round-trips will be upgraded to a 50-seat aircraft.

JetKinston began service to Atlanta on April 1. John Marshall, of the Lenoir County Committee of 100, which helped bring Delta service to Kinston, said county officials hoped Delta would bring back a third flight next spring.

"We're obviously disappointed," Marshall said. "We're not disappointed in the sense of the fact that the flights got scaled back had nothing to do with us. It had everything to do with Delta."

Marshall said the news would not affect the community's support for the jet service.

"We are still real supportive of Delta and we're real proud of the service," Marshall said. "Our objective is to stay behind it and get it back to three flights and maybe even four flights in the spring. In the meantime, we're making sure that the traffic on the two flights that we have stay up."

In the grand scheme of Delta's re-organization of regional airports, Marshall said, Kinston was "lucky," with service ending in New Haven, Conn. and Tupelo, Miss., in addition to Hickory.

"It's a credit to eastern North Carolina that we were able to keep what we did," he said.

While activity on the runway has been scaled back, services have been added inside the terminal. N.C. Global TransPark officials have added free high-speed wireless Internet access in the main terminal, provided through the TransPark Authority's fiber optic system. Last month, officials installed two television sets were installed for passengers to monitor news and weather.