Branson Airport’s big reveal

Eric Olson, SBJ EditorThe climactic revelation of the airline company that will serve Branson Airport in May will take place Thursday morning at 10. Airport officials have released to the media their plans to name the national carrier this week.

“You won’t want to miss it,” says Gene Conrad, the airport’s deputy director of marketing and air service development. “And bring a camera.”

Speculation – or perhaps more hope than anything – has centered on low-fare carriers Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways. A wild card in conversations around the Ozarks is AirTran Airways. I’m going to throw Midwest Airlines into the mix. (They bake chocolate chip cookies on board, at least they used to!)

Either way, Conrad says the carrier will offer daily flights to the airport’s expected 1 million annual passengers.

Officials have been intentionally mum on the subject, leaving the answer a secret in an ad campaign leading up to Thursday’s press conference at the airport, known as BBG.

In launching “Who’s it gonna be at BBG?” which kicked off Nov. 25 with more than two dozen billboard, print, radio and TV advertisements running in Springfield and Branson, they’ve indicated that a deal was in place for some time. The campaign invites the public to visit www.flybranson.com and guess the carrier, with a chance to win round-trip tickets or travel vouchers to a U.S. destination of the airline to-be-named.

Even though the airport has had some stop-and-go moments during its journey at getting off the ground, the concept has never lacked buzz. There is no doubt it will change air travel to and from southwest Missouri. But it may even have international implications. Just last week, a local resident who frequently travels on business to China visited Springfield Business Journal to buy back issues with stories about Branson Airport, which officials claim to be the nation’s first privately financed and operated commercial service airport. The reader said he wants to see what potential the new airport has in meeting his needs for international flights. We’ll follow up to see where this one goes.

Until then, Dec. 11 will provide a lot of answers. Stay connected to sbj.net.

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