By Meagan McGone
BREVARD -- A Portland-based startup airline may soon open its operations in Melbourne.
At a recent meeting, the Melbourne Airport Authority approved an item on its agenda that would give incentives to Elite Airways for bringing its operations to the Melbourne International Airport.
"What the Melbourne Airport Authority approved is permission for the administration to waive fees, which we would normally charge, to make sure that we are an attractive base for them," said Lori Booker, PIO for the Melbourne International Airport. "We want them -- if they're going to build an airline -- we want to be their hub. So what it seems now is that we're securing them as an airline based out of Melbourne, and we'll assist them in waiving some of the fees to help them grow."
For the area, it could mean more jobs, as well as additional options for flying out of Melbourne International Airport.
"Their business model is exactly what we're after: nonstop service and competitive prices," Ms. Booker said.
Though Ms. Booker couldn't provide details about when the startup company will offer its first flight, she said these details are in the works.
"Elite has shared with us that a goal is to pledge flights to Dulles (International Airport, which serves Washington, D.C.) This community has a lot of NASA-related work in Washington," Ms. Booker said. "Elite has showed us that that's one of its priorities, which will be well-received in Melbourne."
She said the company reached out to Melbourne International Airport in August 2009, and the two have been working through a partnership since. Elite Airways recently received its Part 121 Air Carrier Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, a step required of U.S. airlines if they wish to operate as regularly scheduled air carriers.
"To get a Part 121 certificate is huge," Ms. Booker said. "Elite is doing this meticulously and carefully."
Elite Airways did not respond to several attempts to contact the company for an interview.