September 12, 2012 12:00 AM

Throwing good money away at Macon Regional Airport

We know we should be rejoicing at the news that Sun Air International will provide passenger service out of the Macon Regional Airport, but we just can’t. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Sun Air would receive $3.9 million over the two- year term of its contract to fly between Macon and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. There are several ways to look at the gift from the federal government. Some could easily point to the federal largesse as an example of wasted spending. Why? Macon’s airport has proven that it is not -- after millions of federal dollars on other flight subsidies and facility upgrades -- a passenger terminal. The market isn’t there. Sun Air feels by altering its flight schedule it can attract more passengers. But those passengers will cost the government, by its own estimates, $979 per passenger. You can fly from Atlanta to San Francisco, business class, without advance purchase, for $642 about $3 a mile. However, the 79-mile jump from Macon to Atlanta will cost $12 a mile.

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