February 1, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt
Many people want the Lake Area to get a second airline and officials are apparently making good progress on that. That's the word Calcasieu Police Jurors got from their legal counsel Allen Smith who also happens to be a member of the Lake Charles Regional Airport Board.
Jurors had been discussing a report on whether it would be feasible, from a cost standpoint, to combine Lake Charles Regional Airport and Chennault International Airport into one location. But Police Juror Cornie Moon said, "What the public wants to know is, are we going to get an additional carrier?"
Smith says it looks good. He told jurors, "Right this minute we are very hopeful that we're just about to get into some serious negotiations and have a second carrier here in the first quarter of this year. Let's hope."
But local government may have to contribute in new ways to make it happen. Explains Smith, "What that carrier has told us is, 'We'll give you an airplane and two pilots, we'll fly into your airport, but you Mr. Airport are going to have to provide baggage handling, you're going to provide ticket sales, you're going to provide somebody up there to check us in. We don't want any employees.'"
Though many details are as yet secret, Smith says it could help prevent those trips to Houston about which many people complain. Kevin Guidry, police juror, posed the queston: "The carrier that we're going to get, hopefully, in the near future. Would that help us bypass having to go to Houston to go to Dallas, or to go to Houston to go to New Orleans or to go to Houston to go to Baton Rouge? Is that going to take all that away or is that still going to be the same flight pattern that it is now?"
To which Smith responded, "We're not going to have to fly to Houston to go other places. That's all I can say at this time. I've been warned."
Jurors also found out it really isn't financially feasible to consolidate Chennault International Airport and Regional Airport. Administrator Mark McMurry says an expert consultant reviewed the issue. "It would cost between $115 million and $125 million. It really isn't financially feasible to do that."