Rep. Richards Says Commercial Airline Service is a Top Priority

By Melissa Warren | 

Kentucky State Representative Jody Richards thinks a commercial airline service would not only benefit the travelers in south central Kentucky, but the businesses looking to develop here.

"We know we have lost some companies, maybe even including Commonwealth Brands, because they just didn't want to have to fly to Nashville, and get in an automobile to drive on up to Bowling Green," said Kentucky State Representative Jody Richards.

Richards thinks bringing a commercial passenger service would solve this, and airport management agrees.

"We want to provide a seamless travel opportunity for people in this region to buy one ticket and change airplanes to get to the destination one time," said Bowling Green Warren County Regional Airport Rob Barnett.

Recent surveys conducted by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce reveal direct flights to hubs in Atlanta or Chicago using independent subsidiary airlines that contract with larger ones may be the answer, but convincing airlines to create new routes in a small unproven market like Bowling Green is the tricky part. Barnett thinks House Bill 130 can help.

"This would increase our incentive package as we're out trying to recruit an appropriate airline to serve our community," said Barnett.

The bill would give airports like Bowling Green's funding to create those incentives, making a stronger case for the airlines. One setback in the process has been recent mergers of major airlines, which has their subsidiary lines scared to make new commitments.

"They're nervous. They're nervous due to the bankruptcy or the mergers of larger companies and what's going to happen to the development of the routes," said Barnett.

Barnett says despite this, he is scheduled to have talks with several airlines next month. He says HB 130 would not require generating revenue from any added taxes, but would use money already existing in the Aviation Economic Development Fund.

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