Air Choice One reaches critical baggage transfer agreement

September 20, 2012 12:01 am  • 

DECATUR — Air Choice One may have overcome a major challenge to its federal contract as Decatur’s commercial air carrier while simultaneously making travel easier for its passengers, its chief executive officer said Wednesday.

CEO Shane Storz said the airline has found a way to establish electronic ticketing and baggage transitions with major airlines, enabling a more seamless experience for passengers connecting to a larger carrier in Chicago or St. Louis. He made the announcement at the Decatur Park District Board of Commissioners’ regular meeting Wednesday.

Such agreements are difficult for small airlines to establish with large carriers, Storz said, and he has experienced challenges trying to do so over the past few years. He said he was essentially leasing the access through an agreement with Hawaii-based Pacific Wings Holdings.

“This is a fix which works really well. This airline has been around since 1974,” Storz said. “… We feel that is a benefit to both Air Choice and Decatur.”

Air Choice One receives a federal subsidy for its service in Decatur as part of the Essential Air Service program, which helps small communities maintain air service.

When the airline received a four-year renewal of its contract in January, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it must implement an electronic ticketing and baggage agreement with a major airline in order to continue the contract past Jan. 31, 2013.

Storz said the arrangement is likely to be implemented within the next two to three months. Once it is in place, people will be able to use major travel websites to book flights to and from Decatur that connect to other airlines.