The inaugural flight
The ribbon has been cut! Daily flights between the Jack Brooks Regional Airport and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport commenced Thursday, Feb. 14, at the airport in Beaumont, an event that brought together hundreds of people from around the area.
The celebration started bright and early at 9 a.m. with droves of community members gathering to show their support for the new route that so many in the area worked to bring to Jack Brooks Regional.
Newly appointed airport director Alex Rupp was present at the event. Rupp said the route was only in place through a culmination of efforts by counties, cities, businesses and people in the community who want to see the area flourish. He said the airport and supporters of the route have been working for months to see to it that area residents have the option to fly from Jack Brooks Regional Airport to DFW rather than travel to Houston first and fly out from there.
“I’m really excited,” said Rupp, who had been interim director since 2012 until his appointment was made permanent Feb. 13. “We are just ecstatic this has happened.”
Jefferson County Pct. 2 Brent Weaver echoed Rupp’s sentiment.
“I am very excited,” Weaver said at the event. “The route will be very good for this area.”
Weaver and the other Jefferson County Commissioners approved a $250,000 contribution from the county to a “minimum revenue guarantee” (MRG) to American Airlines for a new American Eagle route between Jack Brooks Regional Airport to DFW at their meeting on Sept. 10, 2012. Other counties, cities and local businesses joined in the effort to accumulate the $1.5 to $2 million guarantee required by American Airlines for them to establish the route.
Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce President Jim Rich was a supporter of the route and did a lot of footwork to help the airline reach the goal. He said he felt the route would be a boon to the area and bring in more business and more money to the local economy. At the event, Rich stood by, suitcase in hand, ready to take off on the inaugural flight.
“I’ve got my bags packed and I’m ready to go,” Rich said addressing the audience.
Joe Tant, who is with the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, was there with his girlfriend Dabeyva Durant to take her on a romantic Valentine’s Day lunch in Dallas.
“I’m ready to go eat,” Tant said. “It’s a big deal for us to get this American Airlines route. We wanted to show our support, and this is the inaugural flight so here we are.”
But that wasn’t the whole story! For more on Tant, Durant and their Valentine’s Day flight, see page 5 C.
Those flying out that Thursday loaded up and got ready for takeoff after making it through the security check. Once the plane was full, they raced across the tarmac and down the runway, finally taking to the skies. The plane made it safely to Dallas where the passengers were free to enjoy the sights, and in many cases the tastes, the city had to offer, making the inaugural flight a complete success.
Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com.