Airports add flights, open runways, stay busy

Branson Airport (BKG), which opened last year, now offers nonstop public charter flights to and from Chicago’s Midway Airport (MDW) and Indianapolis International Airport (IND). The flights, operated for Branson AirExpress by ExpressJet Airlines, begin Sept. 10 with service to and from Chicago on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, and to and from Indianapolis on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Branson Airport is the country’s first privately developed and operated commercial service airport.

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) reopened most of its major runway last week after it underwent major reconstruction. The project, which cost more than $348 million, resurfaced the 14,572-foot runway with 18-inch-thick concrete. The new runway is 50 feet wider, with additional high-speed access taxiways to help ease congestion. The remaining one-third of the runway to be updated should be completed by Nov. 15. JFK will operate on reduced schedules until then.

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) in Panama City Beach, Fla., opened May 23. Despite the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the airport has seen high demand and flight attendance, according to airline officials. Randy Curtis, airport executive director, said passenger traffic has exceeded expectations. Loretta Shaffer, director of marketing and Internet for the Beaches of South Walton, agreed. She said Southwest Airlines flights were almost completely full of travelers Memorial Day weekend and the three weeks following. Southwest offers eight daily flights from Houston, Orlando, Baltimore and Nashville, and Delta Airlines flies to ECP from Atlanta and Memphis.

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