Throughout the 2006 year, there has been a considerable drop in people flying in and out of the Wiregrass. But a new company recently purchased the only airline carrier flying out of Dothan, and officials are promising several changes in service.
Sky West Airlines recently purchased Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which is the only airline that services Dothan. ASA was previously owned by Delta Airlines, But Dothan Airport Officials say the air carriers new management may help make airport services run a whole lot smoother.
From 2005 to 2006 there was a 28.8 percent drop in the number of departures out of Dothan Regional airport, and a 28.5 percent decrease in arrivals.
Angela McNeal, the airport’s marketing director says, "I think people are just not traveling like they usually do, and I think more people stayed home this Thanksgiving season. This is probably the slowest Thanksgiving season that I've seen since I've been here."
Airport officials and travel experts say one reason for the drop is the cost of fuel, which is making tickets more expensive. High ticket prices are forcing many people to fly out of other cities like Tallahassee, Montgomery and Atlanta. City’s with airports that offer services from different airlines with competitive airfares.
"On international flights or flights going to the west coast, when you have a further distance to go, there is a big difference... sometimes you can save up to 150 dollars per person," said Beverley Whatley, a travel agent from the “Fairwinds Travel Agency” in Dothan.
ASA, the only airline carrier that fly's out of Dothan, was recently bought by Sky West Airlines. ASA has expanded its services to other regions, but serving additional locations without additional staff is causing flight delays and cancellations at many major and regional airports, including the one here in Dothan. But Sky West officials have hired 200 new employees in Atlanta, the hub for connecting flights in and out of Dothan, and they say the additional manpower will help alleviate many of the delays and flight cancellations that have plagued air travelers here in Dothan for quite some time.
Although Sky West purchased ASA, Delta Airlines will still set the prices for all flights leaving Dothan, and also schedule all flights as well.