Hundreds of residents across the city of Ocala and Marion County have recently sounded off on the topic of bringing commercial airline services to Ocala's OCF Airport. The topic was first broached in the form of a recently shared letter to the city.
Citizens of Marion County have laid out compelling arguments both for and against it.
“One can book a flight for a horse in and out of Ocala, but can’t book a flight for a human. There are 35,000 thoroughbreds in Marion County but nearly 60,000 people in Ocala. It seems the numbers support commercial air service here,” Ocala resident Brock Sheridan pointed out.
“All the new people, businesses, restaurants, and shops that are moving into the Ocala area are going to keep increasing regardless of whether we expand the airport to a commercial airport or not. Expanding the airport would mean less traffic on the death traps known as I-75 and the Florida Turnpike going to Gainesville, Sanford, Orlando, etc. I am all for airport expansion” added fellow Ocala resident Judy Singer.
But others pointed out that commercial air travel has been tried before in Ocala, and didn't work out so well. "It’s been done before," Ocala citizen Tom Connolley pointed out. "Eastern Airlines. They pulled out. It’s expensive for the carriers. Landing fees, personnel, counter space rent. The airlines aren’t coming here unless you can guarantee full airplanes. And where would you fly from Ocala that would fill up a plane every day? Ocala would be just like Gainesville with connecting flights into Atlanta or some other hub. And have you priced flying out of Gainesville lately? It will give you a nose bleed. Nice idea, totally impractical."