The executive directors of four of the state's largest airports continue to call for more state support to expand domestic and international air service in Indiana. The leaders of the Indianapolis International, Fort Wayne International, South Bend International and Evansville Regional airports contend current economic development and quality of life efforts demand the availability of more direct flights. In an open letter, IND's Mario Rodriguez, FWA's Scott Hinderman, SBN's Mike Daigle and EVV's Doug Joest say additional direct flight options will open up Hoosier leisure and business travelers to "more markets and unlimited economic opportunities."

The Indiana Senate Thursday approved a two year budget bill, House Bill 1001, sending it back to the House. The proposed legislation includes $2 million per year for direct international flight attraction, less than the $5 million called for by Governor Eric Holcomb that has been lauded by the airport executives.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Joest says securing flights is a challenging business. "Getting air service is very, very competitive, just like landing a business for your community. It's kind of the same model," he says. "You have to prove that you have a market for it and when you finally get the air service, you have to make sure that your community uses it, because it's definitely one of those use it or lose it propositions."

The airport executives call flights, particularly direct flights, are a "critical quality of life amenity" that boost business attraction and helps retain talent.