How Popular Is The Atlanta-Macon Flight Route?

How many folks would you say fly from Atlanta to Macon on a daily basis?  30? 20? 10?  Try less than 3 per day, but yet we’re continuing to fund it.  Georgia Skies was chosen by the Department of Transportation to fly the route in 2008, but also received federal funds in order to keep the route in operation.  There are 2 airlines currently vying to replace Georgia Skies and continue the daily flight between the sprawling metropolis and the lesser, but both airlines are asking for $1.5 million in federal subsidies in order to operate.  The request is under the “Essential Air Service” where smaller communities were guaranteed to have air service:

The Airline Deregulation Act, passed in 1978, gave airlines almost total freedom to determine which markets to serve domestically and what fares to charge for that service. The Essential Air Service (EAS) program was put into place to guarantee that small communities that were served by certificated air carriers before deregulation maintain a minimal level of scheduled air service. The Department currently subsidizes commuter airlines to serve approximately 140 rural communities across the country that otherwise would not receive any scheduled air service.

 The two companies are asking for a sizable chunk to keep the flight on the go:

American Aviation Group, a company based in West Palm Beach, American Aviation Group, says it wants to run six flights a day between Macon and Atlanta. They’re asking for $1,555,825 in federal subsidies.

Based on the number of people who flew to and from Atlanta — 1,988 — that’s a subsidy of $782 per passenger.

Sun Air Express, a company based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., wants to run four flights on weekdays to and from Atlanta.

They’re asking for $1,946,266 in federal money — that’s $979 a passenger, based on last year’s ridership.

The Athens-Atlanta Essential Air Service route was about $135 per passenger in 2009 and saw a 41% increase in passengers from 2008 and 2009 (I haven’t seen recent stats) according to a 2010 AJC article.  Macon is approximately an hour south of Atlanta.  I don’t think it costs me more than $50 for a tank of gas to drive that far (I’m pretty sure much less than that).  I’m sure some there is a bus or van route that exists to perform a similar function to flying to the Atlanta airport (granted, you’d have to go through security in Atlanta….that’s always a fun experience).

It’s a lot of your money being spent for 20 minutes in the air.


  1. Max Power says:

    I used to fly down to Macon all the time. But that was in a Beechcraft Bonanza with no more than 3 people in the plane but consider, at 5000 feet and 170 knots we burned about 14 gph and we reached Macon in just over 30 minutes. So 7 gallons of 100LL at $5 a gallon comes to about $70 roundtrip and I didn’t have to deal with the TSA. It’s the only way to fly.

  2. Daddy Got A Gun says:

    Sadly, TSPLOST is only paying for airport runway lights in Cobb. They sound like they are needed in Macon.

        • Daddy Got A Gun says:

          CL-002 is only for a Griffin to Atlanta rail study.

          Atlanta’s and Macon’s TSPLOST doesn’t have any money for an Atlanta to Macon rail study.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            That’s the problem, it’s a project that funds yet again another study to only partially run commuter rail to Griffin instead of funding actual service all the way to Macon.

            There have seemingly been a zillion studies done on providing commuter rail service on that line between Atlanta and Macon.

            When are we going to get actual commuter rail SERVICE between Atlanta and Macon instead of just an endless string of increasingly high-priced commuter rail STUDIES?

            No wonder that everyone is convinced that politically well-connected consultants are doing to do well if the T-SPLOST passes (and that’s an increasingly big IF at this point).

  3. saltycracker says:

    Greyhound Atlanta to Macon about 9 times a day In 1.25 hrs for $14 on the web or try your 7-11 with cash. Megabus not interested.

  4. wicker says:

    Argh. Typical neo-con WSJ stuff. What you should be asking is how to stimulate economic growth in Macon. If we include Georgia among the major economic player states, Georgia is the only one that relies so heavily on a single metro area. Even Tennessee – not one of the major players – has two major economic centers in Nashville and Memphis. North Carolina – our main competition – is curious in that they have 6 cities with more than 200,000 people: Charlotte (700,000), Raleigh (400,000), Greensboro (250,000+), Winston-Salem and Durham (225,000+) and Fayetteville (just barely 200,000). By contrast, after Atlanta (420,000), the next biggest Georgia city has 195,000 (Augusta), followed by Columbus (190K), Savannah and Athens (way less than 150K). Also, while the “not Charlotte” North Carolina cities are growing, the other Georgia cities are stagnant and declining. Macon in particular has dropped from 122,000 in 1970 to 91,000 in the last census.

    So consider the question: would high speed rail line from Macon to Atlanta be used by people who want to live in Macon but work in Atlanta and vice versa? Another question: would getting UGA and/or Georgia Tech to put satellite campuses increase the number of highly skilled workers in Macon that could A) ride that line to Atlanta or B) create companies and jobs in Macon? This laissez faire stuff only works if you have a large and diverse economy that attracts workers and companies from all over no matter what you do, including preferably nothing. But that isn’t the case in Georgia, and it certainly isn’t the case in Georgia outside the Atlanta metro area. And when you are talking about actual jobs – and not just commuter communities – it really isn’t the case outside of Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett.

    The anti-tax/anti-spending stuff is just a recipe for letting the places that have jobs keep them and add still more while everybody else withers on the vine. No matter how much you cut taxes, spending and regulations, no electronics design company is going to move to from Dallas to Macon, and Macon isn’t going to start spontaneously generating the banking/finance people that Charlotte has.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Right now, not only is no electronics design company going to move from Dallas to Macon, but they’re probably not going to move from Dallas to Atlanta, either as Atlanta is well-known in North Texas for its worsening traffic and mobility problem that it will not seriously deal with (and, no, that childish and goofy T-SPLOST is NOT a serious attempt at dealing with our worsening traffic and mobility problem).

      The Dallas-Fort Worth region (with the help of a very willing legislative partner in the State of Texas) is spending $5 billion on one just project alone to dramatically expand and double-deck a severely-congested section of Interstate 635 and is spending billions and billions more to dramatically expand multiple other severely-congested section of freeway, build new toll roads where needed and build-out their rail transit network which has 130 centerline miles of rail transit track compared to only 48 miles of rail transit track for a much more severely road infrastructure-challenged Atlanta Region.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Meanwhile, here in the Atlanta Region, we have a do-nothing legislature that is either too busy trying to bilk the taxpayers out of money so that all of their friends in the construction, land speculation, real estate overdevelopment and consulting fields can have another big payday or is too busy trying to push the blame for their own repeated intentional legislative shortcomings (on the transportation problem) on to us, the voters.

      If I was a successful business owner in the Dallas-Fort Worth region where it seems that state and local governments are going above and beyond to tackle transportation head-on, why would I move my business to a place like Atlanta where the legislative leadership has repeatedly stated that they don’t intend to do anything anytime soon, if ever, to address what is obviously a very bad and worsening transportation problem?

  5. slyram says:

    I tell you what… connecting Albany with somewhere other than Atlanta would be nice. When I was in college I worked for ASA in ABY and there were two airlines at the time. Today, Albany has a fewer flights to ATL only and the price is crazy. A flight from Atlanta to NY or Vegas can be found for the same price as ABY to ATL.

    On a related note, the concern of this post for federal transportation funding is important. So, we should question the pricey high-speed rail lines.

  6. Daddy Got A Gun says:

    Macon and Columbus’s problem isn’t transportation, its their city halls and the government parasites that occupy them.

    • wicker says:

      Daddy Got A Gun:

      More ridiculousness. If you look at the list of the growing, thriving cities and metro areas, the vast majority are led by Democrats and RINOs. I dare you to name 5 major cities that are led by conservative Republican mayors. Also, the problems with Macon and Columbus (and Savannah and Albany) long predated their current leadership, going back to when Georgia was still a one party state. Going back to the North Carolina example, Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Fayetteville and Winston-Salem all have Democratic mayors.

      Also, if it wasn’t for the Democratic leadership of Atlanta-Fulton-DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and the rest of suburbia would still be mostly forested areas and cow pastures right now just like a lot of those areas were as recently as the early 90s. The idea that the suburbs keep Atlanta afloat is a myth. The truth is that if it weren’t for the city, 80% of the folks in the suburbs would be living and working in the northeast or left coast somewhere.

      • Daddy Got A Gun says:

        Having had the privilege of trying to do business within Macon in particular, I stand by my statement that the Politicians that run city hall are the reason business won’t locate there. I found the city employees to be racist and law enforcement overly aggressive to the point of being illegal.

  7. Romegaguy says:

    With all of the Asian “massage” parlors that popped up all over Macon when Erick was on the City Council there, why wouldnt people fly to Macon?

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