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Federal grant to help new BR-to-D.C. flight get off the ground

4 years ago September 29, 2011 Sep 29, 2011 Thursday, September 29 2011 Thursday, September 29, 2011 9:42:47 PM CDT in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Ashley Rodrigue

BATON ROUGE-  Boarding calls from Louisiana's capital to the nation's capital are just around the corner. 

The Baton Rouge Metro Airport says it thinks airlines and passengers will buy into the new route better than either have before.  In the past, the airport lured new airlines with new routes, but those deals fizzled out fast.

"It's been win-win in many ways for everyone and that's a lot different scenario from a carrier trying to be a start up," said Airport spokesman Jim Caldwell.

It's a double win for Continental-United and US Airways because those companies get more business with the new destination and get paid to do business because of a federal grant aimed at helping small airports stay busy.

It's $340,000, but the airport has to put up $68,000, or get a private donation to make that match.

"There's always been partnerships between the two and when you have an airport, which is a public facility, it's historically been one of the better partnerships and using the best of both," said Caldwell.

But the Baton Rouge TEA Party says the deal is likely doomed because the government is involved.

TEA Party President Mike Thibodeaux said, "It's crony capitalism at its worst and it should stop at the root."

Thibodeaux says private business should be left to strive alone, otherwise people pay the price, just like in this deal taking off.

"For some reason the government always feels the need to intervene and try to get ahead of the game and it always works out to be disastrous," he said, "It never helps and it always causes dislocations in the economy that is detrimental to everyone involved."

But the airport says the pay-off really goes to the community because travel revs up growth at home.

Caldwell said, "If we get new air service that helps us grow our existing manufacturing and private sector base and get new companies into the market it's a win-win in both the private and the public sector."

Talks have already started with the airlines, but new routes likely won't become reality until next year.

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