Wings Air lands big contract
Local airline to help with Hartsfield connections

LAWRENCEVILLE - Locally headquartered airline Wings Air announced Wednesday it had reached an agreement with American Airlines to handle the company's ground operations at the Atlanta Hartsfied-Jackson International Airport.

According to Wings Air CEO Charlie Mintz, the move will save travelers about two-and-a-half hours in each direction for those wanting to fly to Macon or Athens for $79 one way.

"Our customers will now be able to clear security in these smaller, faster markets and go directly to their connecting flight in Atlanta without having to clear security at Hartsfield," Mintz said. "Beginning Nov. 1, Wings Air's Athens and Macon flights will arrive at and depart from the T-gates in Atlanta."

Mintz said that both markets recently lost their "essential air service" carriers and that Wings Air will now be the only airline capable of providing this connecting service.

Essential air service carriers came to be in the late 1980s when the Department of Transportation deregulated the industry and started the subsidy program to keep airlines in certain markets.

Mintz said Athens lost U.S. Airways last year and said Delta recently stopped servicing Macon through one of its subsidiaries. This allowed the Lawrenceville-based company to move in.

Mintz also announced that service would begin sometime this fall from Briscoe Field in Gwinnett County to Hartsfield-Jackson for about $59 to $79 one way. He said it would be a "non-sterile" service though, meaning customers would still have to clear security in Atlanta. But it would save people time especially when traffic is at its peak. Mintz also said the airline is working on potential code-share agreements with other carriers that service Hartsfield-Jackson to offer full baggage handling in the near future. Wings Air currently only accepts carry-on luggage.

"While a majority of our customers have learned to pack for several days in carry-on size luggage, we are working to offer the most complete service possible," he said.