Commercial passenger airline service could be coming back to Trenton-Mercer Airport, three years after the last such service pulled out. On January 19 Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes announced that the county had received a “letter of intent” from Streamline LLC, a subsidiary of Cleveland-based Charter Air Transport Inc., stating that the airline is set to take over where Big Sky Air left off in 2008.

The deal is subject to approval by the county Board of Freeholders and the Federal Aviation Administration, and the destinations to which Streamline would fly passengers from Trenton have not been determined. The company also is considering other markets, though it says Trenton leads the field, given its location in the northeast.

According to the letter, Streamline is considering destination cities in the northeast, midwest, and southern United States. The airline has provided similar passenger service from Long Island to Atlantic City and from Miami to Cuba.

If the agreement is reached the company would begin offering twice-daily weekday, non-stop, round-trip flights in 30-seat turbo-prop planes beginning in April. The airline also plans to create a station within the Trenton-Mercer Airport terminal where its own employees will provide customer service, maintenance, and support of in-flight operations.

Ronson, which has provided maintenance to the airport’s private and corporate clients for decades, will continue to operate independently.

Streamline CEO Gordon Spelich referred to “an untapped niche market” in the Trenton area, citing the 2 million people who live within 25 miles of the airport.

TMA, however, has been notoriously troublesome to commercial airlines. Since launching passenger service in 1983 11 commercial lines have serviced the airport and failed to generate significant business. The companies also have had to face stiff opposition from neighbors who have complained about the noise. Hughes says the noise factor is a major consideration and that Streamline’s propeller-driven fleet should go a long way toward keeping the noise down.

If the deal goes through, Streamline would commit to at least two years at TMA.

#b#Trenton-Mercer Airport#/b#, 1100 Terminal Circle Drive, Suite 301, West Trenton 08628; 609-882-1600; fax, 609-771-0732. Justin P. Edwards AAE, airport manager.

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