Air service key to modern pace of business

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It's hard for those of us born in the middle of the last century to realize just how fast life is changing.

E-mail is for grandma; today's tech-savvy teenager is more likely to keep in touch with her buddies via text mail on her cellular phone, set to ring with a high-pitched tone inaudible to her parents and teachers.

That friend is just as likely to be across the country as down the block, but she knows her well, thanks to videochatting on her "IM" account.

Stick a stamp on a letter? Forget it.

And if he wants the latest tunes, they're available via an instant download. Buy a collector card on eBay, and it'd better be here by overnight mail the next day.

Clearly, the pace of communication is whirring up to warp speed, and commerce has to keep up.

McCook and the rest of rural Nebraska have proven they can be a player, but they need the level field air service can provide.

Yes, smooth modern highways connect us with major cities. But asking the executive of a high-tech company to drive four hours each way to explore a business possibility is like asking Federal Express to place its packages on a mule train.

They will arrive at their destination; but by the time they do, the demand will have moved somewhere it can be met in hours instead of days.

Yes, there is good Internet service in Southwest Nebraska, along with the e-mail and video conferencing services it makes possible.

But like the military says, nothing replaces boots on the ground.

We can tell a busy entrepreneur about our work ethic and relaxed quality of life, but there's nothing like listening to the cobblestones of Norris Avenue rumbling against the tires.

That's why Sen. Ben Nelson has been such a proponent of the Essential Air Service subsidy, and why we as travelers should take advantage of it whenever we can.

Starting Oct. 29, the service will change, offering ticket pricing attractive not only for the savings in time, but for actual savings as well.

For a single traveler heading east, the Mesa Air Group's one-way ticket for $49 to Omaha -- round trip of $98 -- is very competitive with the cost of gasoline and wear and tear on a car for the same trip -- not to mention parking, extra meals and hotel rooms.

The Kansas City fares -- $79 one way or $158 round trip -- will be just as attractive, not to mention connections with low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines.

So the next time you need to travel for business or pleasure, check out the possibility of flying.

Not only may you save money and time, you'll be supporting the economic growth of your home town.

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