Regional Airport Receives State Funding Toward Commercial Airline Service

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Airport officials have worked years to bring a commercial airline to Bowling Green.

This morning pushed them closer to that goal.

Governor Steve Beshear sent a letter that said the state has committed $750,000 to the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport toward an airline service.

The money completes a two-million dollar incentive package officials have been building to attract commercial airlines to the region.

"We've been to Frankfort numerous times to talk with the governor and the economic development folks, so it's an exciting day and there was a lot of leg work that went into it before this day," said State Representative Jody Richards (D) for the 20th District.

Airport officials faced a setback in April when the governor vetoed the funding.

"Even though he vetoed the line-item for air service development in Bowling Green, he still continued to support and told us that he would find a way -- and he did," said Rob Barnett, the airport's manager.

Now, according to Barnett, the airport has an attractive financial package to present to airlines.

"We're certainly going to be very selective about which airline we choose to deal with. We want to make sure that the airline route suits the travel patterns of the people in this community," he said.

Barnett said interested airlines will have much to consider.

"They'll start looking at route structure, aircraft availability, jet fuel cost, and how long it will take to get TSA in place -- any infrastructure needs that might be necessary, getting the people trained," he said.

Barnett referenced studies that indicate flights to Chicago and Atlanta would be most popular in this region.

"Both of those hubs would provide many, many connecting flights -- not only domestic in the United States, but also international," he explained.

Barnett said about 700,000 people from the 10-county region travel to the Nashville each year to fly.

That's why he said there's a need for a commercial airline here -- as a convenience to the community and to bring tax dollars back into Kentucky.

"This $750,000 -- we don't even know if we'll ever have to use it, because we really believe an airline, if it properly services this area, can make money," Richards said.

Officials said they're thankful to Gov. Steve Beshear for the support he has shown and for this funding.

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