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Local leaders seek to lure airline to Pensacola

By By BRIAN BLACKLEY
Advance Publisher
Pensacola officials are making a push to get AirTran Services, a commercial airline operation, to relocate from Fort Walton Beach to Pensacola and many Atmore community leaders are planning to take up the cause.
Today at noon, Gerlach's restaurant in downtown Atmore will host area business people and community leaders who plan to discuss the issue as they seek to map out a plan of support for the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce as it seeks to lure AirTran from Fort Walton Beach.
According to Emilie Mims, director of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, the relocation of the operation will help area businesses that use airline services have more options, save valuable driving time and see significant cost savings when using airline services.
Alan Bell, vice president of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, has worked closely with the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce in its efforts to recruit AirTran.
A former Alto Products Corp. employee, Bell has seen the costs of commercial flight from Pensacola.
Bell said Landa's company uses AirTran services for the majority of the company's travel.
Once the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce began efforts to entice AirTran, Landa, Bell and others thought it would be a good idea for the project to be handled between the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce and other area chambers.
According to Natalie Prim, vice president of community development for the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, AirTran is interested in relocating to Pensacola, but is seeking assurances that area communities will support their move.
According to Bell, today's meeting is meant to test the pulse of area business leaders and to seek their cooperation and participation in bringing AirTran to Pensacola.