New Airline to Serve Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri has long lured theater-adoring and country-music-loving travelers to the Ozarks. Soon, the city will take matters into its own hands and fly tourists to town on its own air service.

Branson AirExpress, a new charter service, is scheduled to stretch its wings on May 17th for a three-month trial. The airline will fly to-and-from Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Shreveport, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; and Terre Haute, Indiana.

The new airline is operated by the same group that runs the Branson Airport, the first privately built commercial airport in the United States. The airport, which operates without using taxpayer's money, opened less than a year ago with the goal of bringing vacation dollars to Branson.

"This is a pretty exciting development," said Jeff Bourk, executive director of Branson Airport and president of Branson AirExpress to USA Today on March 10th. "We are out there to bring people here."

AirTran Airways currently operates flights out of the airport to Atlanta and Orlando, and Frontier Airlines (operated by Republic Airlines) will begin servicing Denver on April 19th.

According to USA Today, private investors funneled $155 million into the airport after being impressed with the "roughly 8 million visitors who drove or were bused to Branson in recent years." The airport hopes to get $8.24 from the city of Branson for every visitor who comes through its doors.

Branson AirExpress is contracted with regional carrier ExpressJet of Houston, who will offer "50-seat Embraer jets, crews, maintenance and insurance," said USA Today. The airport will handle booking, ticketing, and ground services.

Branson is well known for housing over 40 live music theaters, including Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater. The city also boasts a host of music and culture museums, such as the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum, the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, Hollywood Wax Museum, and the Titanic Museum, the world's largest museum dedicated to the ship. Other attractions include two water parks and 12 championship golf courses.

To kick off the service, Branson AirExpress will offer one-way fares for as low as $49, plus taxes and fees. A $15 checked baggage fee will apply for the first bag, and $25 for the second. To book, visit the Branson AirExpress website, or call 1-888-FLY-BKG1.
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