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We've stuck by the Muskegon County Airport for a while.  It's been a bit of a wild ride to say the least as things expand and contract around the Muskegon area, but the idea of keeping our airport alive, working and relevant is something that no one really wants to give up on.  While there have been plenty of changes, and some starts that could have been better with different projects, persistence seems to be paying off and a couple of really exciting developments are coming down to sent yet another breath of life into what could become a significant chance in travel for all of West Michigan.  Ken Efting is the Executive Director of the Muskegon County Airport and joins us today to talk about the exciting changes. 

 

First up, let's talk about Denver Air Connection. "During a special full board meeting on April 2nd, the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners voted in support of Denver Air Connection’s (DAC) proposal to the US Department of Transportation to replace Southern Airways Express as the Essential Air Service provider at the Muskegon County Airport. The final decision rests with the USDOT and the board hopes to receive notification of their decision by mid-May. If approved, this would mark a welcomed return of regional jet service to Muskegon. Having airline partnerships with Delta, United and American Airlines, we’re very excited at the prospect of partnering with Denver Air to help “restore trust” our air service. DAC’s impressive flight performance is well-documented as they routinely exceed the national average in terms of high on-time flight completion rates and extremely low delays and cancellations in communities with environments similar to Muskegon.  

DAC is a pilot-run airline, a very unique attribute in today’s market, its top executives “flying the line” on passenger routes. As a result, their leadership is very in-tune with the strengths and weakness of their operation. They’re very methodical in growth, which has made their company extremely resilient.  DAC boasts a unique internal pilot training pipeline that starts with low-time pilots operating cargo flights with aircraft with less automation. DAC's progression program gives at least 1,000 hours of relevant, real-world flying experience before they ever carry a paying passenger. Not only does this enhance safety, it also promotes operational reliability and ensures adequate staffing.  DAC is well-known for their industry leading in-flight beverage and snack service."  Let's get flying!

On to the renovations!  They have been a long time coming.  The look of an 80's mall is going to be replaced by the sleek new façade and interior improvements that will for the first time include bathrooms past the security check in point.  Yes, you will no linger have to be in and out of security 5 times to go to the bathroom before your flight takes off.   There are improvements being made to the lighting on the campus as well as getting rid of the leaky roof and tall glass structures that have been costing the airport and county for years.  About $40,000 in savings is being projected annually with the renovations and the search is still on for an tenant for the restaurant inside the airport.  There's a golden opportunity waiting for someone. 

The marketing of the airport will expand as well.  If/when the DOT approves the recommendation for Denver Air Connection, the chance for growth has never been better.  They are a calculated and determined and in time, we could see a shift in commuter air traffic in West Michigan making a major swing back to Muskegon for those who need to make connecting flights to any number of cities that DAC serves.  This is what is meant by persistence paying off and strong work and dedicated leadership for the Muskegon County Airport has given us.  Our sincere congratulations to Ken and the team at the airport!  

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