Direct Flights from Tulsa to Los Angeles, New York Could Be a Reality

Friday, July 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa is one step closer to getting a new airline. City councilors voted Thursday night to put up collateral in support of Great Plains Airlines. City and business leaders say although the city is putting up the funds to help finance the airline, there shouldn't be much of a risk. They say Great Plains should bring more money to Tulsa.

Since the city can not mortgage it's own property, it's turning old Air Force plant #3 over to the Tulsa Industrial Authority to put up as collateral to back up the bonds that will be sold to finance the airline. The state of Oklahoma gave Great Plains the largest incentive. The legislature voted earlier this year to give them a $15,000,000 tax credit. The airline’s executives told the News on Six that everything seems to be falling into place for the new airline.

David Dowd and his daughter Madison are going home to New York. They'll have to change planes in Chicago in order to reach their final destination. Presently, changing planes is a common occurance for those flying out of Tulsa International, but that could change within seven months. Dowd says he'd buy a ticket to save time and to have less hassle. "The less connections to the smaller cities, less delays, absolutely," he said.

Great Plains Airlines is getting everything in order to start up its non-stop airline in Tulsa. The company plans to target travelers going to places such as New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. Non-stop flights won't be the only difference in service. The airline’s fleet of planes will be 50-seater jets. "They're very nice planes,” said Great Plains attorney David Johnson. “They fly higher and faster than most jets that people are familiar with."

Tulsa City Council members say there is a risk that the city could lose the plant should the airline default, but they are not worried. "I think we've all wrestled with it, because having to put up collateral is new to us," said Tulsa City Councilor Art Justis. He says the city doesn't make much renting space at the plant. It was donated by the Air Force to the city to be used as an economical development tool. Justis says the companies presently leasing space in the plant could stay and continue to contribute to the city's economy. The present lease is set up that way.

Financial failure of the Great Plains airline isn't something the city expects. Johnson says the new direct flights to both coasts should entice companies to relocate to Tulsa. "Tulsa is located in the center of the U-S,” he said. “The Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and the city have known for many years that direct flight service has been a problem."