A hopeful glimpse of the future got off the ground this past weekend at Acadiana Regional Airport.

Halliburton employees took a charter flight on a passenger jet from the local airport Sunday, a development that encouraged airport director Jason Devillier. United Airlines was the carrier on a day that perhaps signalled the beginning of a new era.

That flight was big news and good news. Military commercial charter flights have left ARA before but now there is a push to attract other companies to fly their employees out of the airport in Iberia parish.

“Word like that tends to get around,” Devillier said this week in The Daily Iberian, noting United Airlines reported that everything went smoothly on its end of the charter flight Sunday.

Halliburton has two more charter flights scheduled from ARA on Oct. 14 and Oct. 28, Devillier said. If the oilfield-related company needs more charter flights, ARA can accommodate, he said.

With that in mind, other companies, as well as the athletic department at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, have been contacted about the availability of charter flights.

Bill Miller, Airport Authority commissioner, was enthusiastic about the pending possibilities. He said charter flights are a positive for ARA, which is working to get money for an airport terminal.

“It can develop into something that would be a large asset to this airport,” Miller said.

Charter flights increase the fuel sales, of which the airport gets a percentage of the fees. Charter flights also increase the total number of planes using the airport, which enhances the airport’s standing with the Federal Aviation Administration and could bring in more money from the state.

ARA is in the driver’s seat, er, pilot’s chair, in this venture.

DON SHOOPMAN

SENIOR NEWS EDITOR

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