Daytona Beach International Airport has found a silver lining.
Starting Jan. 16, Silver Airlines will offer daily, non-stop flights to Fort Lauderdale.
“This is very exciting. This is a beginning -- it’s going to be one flight a day beginning in January, and it’s going to open up the south, it’s going to open up the Caribbean,” said Rick Karl, airport director. “We hope to get flights to Key West, flights to the Bahamas … it’s going to be very exciting.”
In building a relationship with the community, the airline could also become a sports community partner.
“Hopefully, if we can make it official, they’re going to become the official airline of the Daytona Tortugas,” Mr. Karl told members of the Volusia County Council during the regular meeting Dec. 4 in DeLand,
For Volusia County and other travelers in the region, the low fares will be a big draw.
“Fort Lauderdale fares will be $59 fares, and you can get into the Bahamas for (around $150). We are actually the largest air carrier in the Bahamas, not by size, but by departures,” said Kurt Brulisauer, senior vice president of ground operations for the airline. “We serve 12 islands and are adding the 13th this summer. Connecting northern Florida with the Bahamas is really cool.”
While the county will provide $100,000 in incentives to the airline company over the span of one year, those funds already were budgeted, so the county does not incur a new expenditure or debt, said Deb Denys, council vice chair.
“We’re looking to commit $25,000 per quarter for a total of $100,000 for one year, but it’s almost a draw down,” Ms. Denys said. “This is already a budgeted item, we’re not incurring nor taking away from any other projects.”
The money previously was budgeted as part of the economic development budget for airline incentives.
“When we do any sort of airline transaction or economic development transaction, you’ve given the county a manger the ability to do good-faith negotiations. Everything we do is always subject to county council approval,” Mr. Karl said. “The airline asked for more, but we negotiated it downward. Without that freedom to negotiate and work, we wouldn’t have these opportunities.”
Airline employees are looking forward to serving Volusia County, Mr. Brulisauer added.
“This is going to be really fun for us and our employees and the communities that we serve, so we’re really looking forward to it,” he said.
Silver Airways is based in Fort Lauderdale.