On the day the Hilton Head Island Airport runway extension was approved by the Hilton Head Town Council and Beaufort County Council, it was announced that Delta had canceled service to Hilton Head and three other airports, all of which have runways longer than Hilton Head, up to 8,000 feet. With less than 3 percent of tourists arriving annually at the Hilton Head airport, it's clear Delta's decision had little to do with runway length.
A recent New York Times article indicates airlines are reducing or eliminating service to small airports nationwide due to the increase in fuel costs, the availability of other larger airports with a greater selection of airlines and cheaper fares and the increase of vacation travel by car instead of by air. This should give pause to the councils. Extending the runway won't assure that commercial service will continue to Hilton Head.
However, is it possible that councilmembers' recent meeting with Piedmont Airlines resulted in assurances of commercial service for the next 20 to 25 years? Or is it all a charade concealed under the guise of doing everything to retain commercial service to Hilton Head so that only private jet aircraft owners will be happy with what was accomplished?
With a longer runway, they alone could be the ones who benefit at the expense of taxpayers who will pay the bill so that a privileged minority is not inconvenienced by having to stop to refuel en route to their destination.
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Donald J. Schwarz Hilton Head Island