The Association of U S West Retirees



Officials pursue Monroe-to-Denver air service


By Stephen Largen

Monroe News Star

August 17, 2010


Monroe Regional Airport could have direct commercial flights to and from Denver if the Monroe Chamber of Commerce gets its wish. 

The chamber is interested in service to Denver because of anticipated increased demand resulting from Monroe-based CenturyLink’s acquisition of Denver-based Qwest Communications.

CenturyLink, Monroe’s signature company and one of Fortune 500’s largest U.S. companies, announced it would acquire Qwest earlier this year. The companies anticipate closing the transaction in the first half of 2011.

Monroe Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sue Nicholson said the chamber will talk to the airport’s current carriers about the possibility of a Denver flight but also would be open to adding another carrier, such as Denver-based Frontier Airlines, that provides direct service to and from Denver.

Chamber representatives asked U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., on her Monday swing through Monroe for any help she could provide in pursuing the Denver service.
Landrieu, the chair of the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee, said in a Monday meeting with The News-Star’s editorial board she is willing to help the airport pursue the new flights.

Airport Manager Cleve Norrell said getting Denver service would likely require state funding before the project can move forward.

Norrell said the flights could be offered daily or just a few times per week, depending on demand.

Nicholson noted that the city successfully used subsidies and grants from the government to reacquire direct American Airlines flights to Dallas that had been lost in the late 1990s.

“One of the issues that smaller communities like ours have is access to direct flights,” Nicholson said.

“So initial grants and subsidies could help.”

Monroe Regional Airport currently offers commercial flights to regional hubs in Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas and Houston.

Stacey Goff, CenturyLink’s executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, said increased employee traffic to and from Denver could benefit all airport customers.

“Consistent, reliable and affordable commercial air service to and from Monroe is very important for CenturyLink,” Goff said.

“While we do expect Denver to be a frequent destination as we move toward completion of the Qwest transaction, our employees routinely travel to each of the 33 states we serve. We hope that any increased volume that is driven by our company will lead to cheaper, more reliable service for everyone flying into and out of Monroe.”

CenturyLink already flies company-owned planes out of Monroe Regional to and from regional operating centers.

The company currently runs a shuttle between Monroe and Kansas City, the home of the former Embarq Corp. acquired by CenuryLink in 2009, and expects to add a shuttle to Denver in the coming weeks, Goff said.