Athens-Ben Epps Airport Awarded $750,000 From Federal Grant
Athens-Ben Epps Airport has been awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to support efforts to bring passenger service back to the Classic City. According to a release from the ACC Government, the airport received a Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) FY 2018 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Airport Director Mike Clarke says the $750,000 will be used to bring a top tier airline to Athens.
"We're looking for airlines that really are based in revenue and/or quality that already have a good revenue base that can sustain themselves."
Athens-Ben Epps Airport was one of only 18 grant recipients out of 57 applicants and the only grant recipient in Georgia.
Clarke says he believes there is enough of a demand in Athens to support a new carrier.
"There are 1,400 people per day who fly in and fly out. All we need to capture is 7% of that in our market to make it work.”
Athens supports the demand for a new carrier.
“We know that the people are there. We just need to market it well. Let them know that we're here when an airline does come."
But he is mindful of local concerns.
"We are conscious of the community. We're not going to be a Hartsfield. We're not going to bring in a lot of noise or anything like that but we do want to be the best airport we can in our community."
The grant will be used primarily for revenue guarantees and airport marketing efforts for an airline that decides to come to Athens. Airport officials will meet with several airlines in the coming months and will present them with a market study for the Athens-Ben Epps Airport.