Trans States suspends Willard service

By Sky Opila

On 3:56 p.m. Monday afternoon, the last Trans States Airlines plane departed from the University of Illinois’ Willard Airport.

The airline company had been a staple at Willard Airport, 11 Airport Rd., Savoy, for more than a decade, providing twice-a-day service from Champaign to St. Louis.

“For the general public, which includes students, (Trans States) probably provided service for about 700 passengers a month,” said Steve Wanzek, Willard Airport manager.

Willard Airport received a letter of notification on Wednesday, Oct. 26, that Trans States Airlines would be ending its partnership.

According to their Web site, Trans States Airlines, based out of St. Louis, is the sixth largest independent regional airline in the United States. They are partnered with American Airlines, United Airlines and U.S. Airways as a regional feeder. A feeder is an airline company that provides short route service to a larger airline.

Every time an airplane lands at Willard, the airport receives a landing fee that is based on the weight of the plane, Wanzek said.

“We will lose (the fees on) about 60 planes a month,” Wanzek said. “Although the weight is very small, it is still lost revenue,” he said.

With the loss of some passengers with Trans States’ suspension of service, the airport will take another revenue loss through ticket prices.

“We received a small amount from every ticket sold, now that is gone,” Wanzek said.

In addition, the 700 passengers who flew Trans States Airlines now need to find a new way to fly. Many passengers did not use the flight to travel to St. Louis, but rather to transfer at St. Louis to fly to different parts of the country, Wanzek said.

However, Trans States Airlines is not the largest airline company to service Willard Airport. Although it is one of the few that provide service to St. Louis, several others, such as American Eagle and Delta Connection, provide thousands of passengers with flights from Willard Airport, Wanzek said.

“There are other options at Willard for people to fly to a certain city for transfer,” Wanzek said. “Trans States is only one of the many options for flights.”

Bill Mishk, spokesman for Trans States Airlines, said the reason for ending service to Willard was due to flights being unprofitable in such a small town. Trans States had been paying more money than they were making in order to maintain service to Willard, he said.

“We’d like to retain the option of reopening service at Willard airport after such a great relationship over the years,” Mishk said.

Rick Neumann, sophomore in Aviation, said suspensions such as Trans States’ create scary situations for students, such as himself, who hope to fly commercial planes after college.

“I’m a little nervous about whether or not there will be job openings when I graduate,” Neumann said. “However, I’m hopeful that my degree will still be able to help me get a job as an instructor or pilot for a private company.”By Sky Opila

Staff writer

On 3:56 p.m. Monday afternoon, the last Trans States Airlines plane departed from the University of Illinois’ Willard Airport.

The airline company had been a staple at Willard Airport, 11 Airport Rd., Savoy, for more than a decade, providing twice-a-day service from Champaign to St. Louis.

“For the general public, which includes students, (Trans States) probably provided service for about 700 passengers a month,” said Steve Wanzek, Willard Airport manager.

Willard Airport received a letter of notification on Wednesday, Oct. 26, that Trans States Airlines would be ending its partnership.

According to their Web site, Trans States Airlines, based out of St. Louis, is the sixth largest independent regional airline in the United States. They are partnered with American Airlines, United Airlines and U.S. Airways as a regional feeder. A feeder is an airline company that provides short route service to a larger airline.

Every time an airplane lands at Willard, the airport receives a landing fee that is based on the weight of the plane, Wanzek said.

“We will lose (the fees on) about 60 planes a month,” Wanzek said. “Although the weight is very small, it is still lost revenue,” he said.

With the loss of some passengers with Trans States’ suspension of service, the airport will take another revenue loss through ticket prices.

“We received a small amount from every ticket sold, now that is gone,” Wanzek said.

In addition, the 700 passengers who flew Trans States Airlines now need to find a new way to fly. Many passengers did not use the flight to travel to St. Louis, but rather to transfer at St. Louis to fly to different parts of the country, Wanzek said.

However, Trans States Airlines is not the largest airline company to service Willard Airport. Although it is one of the few that provide service to St. Louis, several others, such as American Eagle and Delta Connection, provide thousands of passengers with flights from Willard Airport, Wanzek said.

“There are other options at Willard for people to fly to a certain city for transfer,” Wanzek said. “Trans States is only one of the many options for flights.”

Bill Mishk, spokesman for Trans States Airlines, said the reason for ending service to Willard was due to flights being unprofitable in such a small town. Trans States had been paying more money than they were making in order to maintain service to Willard, he said.

“We’d like to retain the option of reopening service at Willard airport after such a great relationship over the years,” Mishk said.

Rick Neumann, sophomore in Aviation, said suspensions such as Trans States’ create scary situations for students, such as himself, who hope to fly commercial planes after college.

“I’m a little nervous about whether or not there will be job openings when I graduate,” Neumann said. “However, I’m hopeful that my degree will still be able to help me get a job as an instructor or pilot for a private company.”