July 01, 2007

Pilots need enough runway

Columbus Metropolitan Airport Director Mark Oropeza said that pilots need enough runway so that if they lose an engine just as they are about to take off, they can either stop or continue the takeoff safely. With the kind of jet American Eagle wants to use, they would need approximately another 1,000 feet.

"Twenty-nine passengers is just not going to make it for them," Oropeza said.

This was said following that the Columbus Metropolitan Airport's efforts to add a new Columbus-to-Dallas route have had a turbulent beginning.

With Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a Delta feeder with flights to Atlanta and the only carrier now serving Columbus, the Airport Commission turned to American Eagle -- a regional feeder for American Airlines -- in hopes of adding two daily flights from Columbus to American's hub in Dallas.

Airport officials had expected an answer from American Eagle by mid-summer. But the answer wasn't what they had hoped to hear.

The airline said the Columbus airport's 7,000-foot runway isn't long enough to accommodate the 50-passenger jets American Eagle would want to use here, said Oropeza.

Airport Commission Chairman Don Cook said airport officials have spent the last 18 months recruiting American Eagle. He said the carrier had indicated it wanted to be in Columbus before talks broke down over the length of the runway and the jet the airline insisted on using.

"We're not going to spend $30 million just for American Airlines to have their particular one jet come into our market because that would just not be financially feasible for us," Cook said.

But if American Eagle makes a compatible plane available, the opportunity for them to serve the Columbus airport could open up again, he said.

Read the news release of this article's source at Runway too short for plane to Dallas By Brian Mcdearmon

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