June 10, 2014 08:01 PM
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Acadiana Regional Airport in New Iberia plans to begin offering commercial flight service through United Airlines next year.

If all goes as planned, passengers could be boarding flights out of Acadiana Regional Airport in New Iberia next year.

Airport officials have been negotiating with United Airlines for the last year, says Airport Director Jason Devillier.

The commercial round-trip flights will mainly focus on transporting oil and gas workers between New Iberia and Houston, but will also be open to leisure travel.

"Our biggest challenge will be to make the flights affordable," says Devillier, adding he's hoping to negotiate a ticket price of between $300 and $400. According to United's website, the cheapest flight between Lafayette and Houston is $675.

The initiative was largely sparked by the arrival of Halliburton's 30,000-square-foot administration facility along Admiral Doyle Drive, right near the airport. "This will mainly be for the Halliburton guys and other offshore energy guys out at the Port of Iberia who need to go back and forth from New Iberia to Houston," explains Devillier. "It will be just like a regular airline, but we're not trying to compete with Lafayette directly; 90 percent of their market is for leisure travel."

The Iberia Parish Council recently approved a $1 million allocation for taxiway improvements and another $750,000 for the construction of a terminal, which Devillier says will have a capacity for between 50 and 75 passengers. The money comes from a 1-cent sales tax generated by a tax increment financing district created in 2011 for infrastructure improvements throughout the parish.

"I'm being optimistic here, but I'm hoping we'll have this signed and bid out in time for the construction to be complete sometime in the fall," Devillier says.

If all goes smoothly, Deviller expects the new service to be up and running by summer 2015.

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