FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Florence Regional Airport will soon see a full fleet of jets.
The larger aircraft are already flying in and out of the airport, and for the first time the older planes won’t be used at all anymore.
Dash 8 turboprops will transition out and 50 new regional passenger jets will transition in.
Ultimately there’s three key impacts Florence leaders said the transition will have on the region – convenience, recruiting more industry, and better reliability.
Jet service at the Florence Regional Airport is something the community has been working toward for quite some time.
“We would have loved to have had them two years ago is probably the answer, and I’m sure the airport would tell you the exact same,” Mike Miller, president of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, said. “The delays that we’ve had because of worn equipment and Piedmont Airlines and American know that there was a transition on this, and everybody in town would have liked to have seen it sooner, but we’re just happy the transition has started.”
The hope is that by getting rid of the Dash 8 turboprops and transitioning to all jets, issues like unreliability will go away.
There’s been a lot of conversations with American Airlines to get Florence on the schedule to cycle the old planes out of the market. Connie Anderson, executive director of the Florence Regional Airport, said it’s been rewarding to see all the hard work pay off.
According to Anderson, American Airlines is offering support and took care of all personnel staff training months in advance, in anticipation of this change.
“From a recruitment standpoint, jet service makes all the difference in the world,” Miller said. “When you’re a business and flying people in and out of here – particularly your large Hondas and Otis elevator, QVC – they all want jet service and they will actually drive to have the service and then drive into Florence from the closest airport.”
Rich Spivey, assistant vice president for Honda South Carolina, said he flies in and out of Florence for business two to three times a month.
“We’ve definitely been looking for more reliability, on-time service, and this is a great plus for the Pee Dee region, Florence, Honda as a company,” Spivey said. “We do have a lot of associates that travel on a daily basis getting to Charlotte and all points elsewhere from Charlotte.”
Miller said the transition will help in bringing in more events and conventions to the region.
“That’s a requirement for these folks,” he said. “They want to know one thing; do we have road access, which Florence is blessed to have, but from an airport standpoint we didn’t have the jet service that most all of them really, really want to have conventions and so forth here, so that’s a big step for us.”
The airport expects a formal announcement in mid-April once the transition is complete.