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STUDY WEIGHS NEED FOR COMMUTER AIR SERVICE IN PROVO

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A lot of Utah County business people travel out of Utah via the Salt Lake International airport, but whether it is enough to warrant bringing commuter air service to Provo remains to be seen.

A task force studying expansion of air service at Provo's airport has just completed a survey of the air-travel needs of 50 top businesses in Utah County. The survey determined the number of flights booked out of Salt Lake monthly as well as the number of visitors and customers of those businesses that land in Salt Lake and travel to Utah County each month.The survey found that, on the average, Utah County businesses book 2,383 flights out of Salt Lake City monthly, while they receive 522 visitors or customers via the airport, according to Marlo Jensen, Freedom Festival director and coordinator of special projects for Provo's economic development office.

Jensen said information about travel rates also was solicited from a major travel agency in Utah County; the company indicated it had handled 37,000 travel arrangements - including cancellations - through October. Jensen said the company estimates it handles approximately one-third of the total business travel accounts in the county.

The survey results and other information being gathered by the task force will be given to an airline company that has expressed interest in establishing service at the Provo Airport, Jensen said.

"Our function is to gather data and give it to the airline so they can make a decision about whether it is economically feasible to establish commuter service," Jensen said.

"At this point we are trying to make arrangements with the airline company that has expressed interest to see if we can get data through the Airline Reporting Corporation that should be able to give us total numbers of transactions for the whole county," Jensen said. Those figures would include business and private customers.

Task force members had no idea how much air travel Utah County businesses engaged in and were surprised that some businesses, expected to be minimal users, were not, Jensen said.