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International travelers satisfied with local airport

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

To those who fly out of the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport frequently on business, the service is just right.

Robert Hetherington, president of the international division at Paul Mueller Company, said his department sends about 15 people out of the airport on a regular basis.

Though the cost of flying from Springfield is something the company continues to be unhappy with, the convenience of getting people directly into town, rather than having to pick them up in St. Louis or Tulsa, is what keeps the company using the local airport.

"It's not practical for us to fly into another city and drive, and we can't bring our guests in through another airport, either," Hetherington said.

Though the fares for the business traveler are always higher, Hetherington said the company often gets good rates on flights.

"It's simply a fact that business subsidizes tourist travel, but occasionally you run into a great price on a fare, and you grab it," he said.

The Springfield airport's service compares favorably to that of other cities, he said.

"We like flying in and out of Springfield. It's a well-run and -operated airport," Hetherington said.

The costs of flying led the company to invest in a corporate plane, which it uses for trips to and from destinations in North America, Hetherington said.

"We've saved a lot of money on some trips by using our own plane. It's also very convenient for us when we need to get a small group somewhere," he added.

Jo Moon travels quite a bit for Tracker Marine. Though the fares are sometimes "crippling" and can damage budgets, Moon said she thinks the airport has a good mix of services.

"One of the things I do appreciate about the airport is the diversity of services. There are a lot of good connections available if you originate at this airport," Moon said.

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