To the Editor:
The reason commercial airlines do not fly to Ocala is because they do not have to. The airlines used to be heavily regulated. The government told them where to fly, when, and how much they could charge.
Back then there was service to Ocala International Airport. It was extremely expensive.
President Jimmy Carter deregulated the airlines with the idea that with less government regulation, the airlines would be more profitable and prices would go down. Deregulation meant the airlines could charge whatever they pleased and fly where and when they wanted.
The airlines do not want to fly to Ocala. I suspect there are a couple of reasons: this area of Florida, from The Villages to the north, is not wealthy, and Ocala’s economy in a nutshell is horses, distribution centers, and transient old folks in Ocala such as On Top of the World and the Villages in upper Orlando. By transient, I mean they come down in October and leave in May.
There is not enough demand for year-round air service. Because of deregulation, the airlines are compelled to focus on markets that can support a robust service. Southwest needs 15 flights a day from every airplane to make money. There is not enough wealth here. In Florida, the wealth is at the coast. That is why we don’t have Costco or any other fun stores like Premium Outlets. And the coast, like Palm Beach, has air service, Costco, and Premium Outlets. I like Dollar Tree myself.
Marion County resident