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Speer: Show support for air service to airport

September 16, 2011
Bill Speer - Editor/Publisher , The Alpena News

Consider this a call to action.

Grassroots efforts can literally move mountains, so let's ban together and move the minds of some airlines executives.

I'm asking readers to take five minutes and draft a letter in support of commercial air service at the Alpena County Regional Airport. Share in that letter any personal experience you have had at the airport, how many times you might fly in a year, or the importance of preserving jobs in the region through direct and indirect employment with air service there.

The letters should be directed to Jackie Krawczak, Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, 235 W. Chisholm, Alpena.

And, if you really believe in continued air service there, call your county commissioner and ask him to take a lead role in preservation of air service. Commissioners seem to be reluctant participants in this issue, and it's time they start taking a more active role in the preservation efforts.

Now is the time for action by each of us. It appears Alpena has been given a reprieve for service by Delta subsidiaries Mesaba and Pinnacle through May 31 of next year, by order of the U.S. Department of Transportation. However, as those already working on this project understand, getting access to airlines officials is not easy, thus it is going to take time to open the right doors.

At this point I don't believe it important who the commercial airline carrier Alpena eventually might attract is. Delta's subsidiaries have direct access to the main terminal in Detroit, thus they still would be the preferred carrier. However, if they continue to balk at continuing air service here, then I would settle for anyone who can provide reliable service.

The important item for me right now is not so much the who, but that some type of provider be secured. Without commercial air service, this region would be severely impacted economically. It is amazing the volume of business people who use that airport each year and, suffice to say, some of them would be forced to move away if dependable air service no longer was here.

Easily accessible transportation is a foundation block for any region's economic growth. We are blessed with water transportation that most region's can't participate in, but it isn't available 12 months of the year. While US-23 and M-32 are fine highways, they are not the I-75 corridor of four-lane, 70 mph surfaces.

Some of our rail service still exists, while other portions of it have been abandoned over the past 10 years.

Thus, air service is even more critical for our region. Air service bridges the distance between "here and there" and, depending on where "there" is, it still is possible to fly out of Alpena in the morning, conduct business elsewhere, and return back in the evening.

Right now a chamber of commerce committee is working hard to share Alpena's concerns with airlines officials. It needs our help, however, so let's provide the support and ammunition to impress airlines executives that indeed, commercial service not only makes sense, it can be run at a profit in Alpena.

Our community has rallied together before. It's time to do it again.

Sit down, write a letter, and forward it to the chamber.

Our community will thank you.



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