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City of Lakeland
City of Lakeland
City of Lakeland's Blog

3:45 UPDATE - LAKELAND, FL (March 31, 2011)According to the National Weather Service, severe weather blew through Lakeland with heavy rains and high winds.  There is at least two tornadoes that touched down in Polk County. The severe weather caused damage to trees, power loss and damage to aircraft at the Sun n Fun Fly-In.


·         Power restoration efforts are a priority and Lakeland Electric has restored all closed circuits and all transmission lines are back up.

·         At one point there were 11 closed circuits within the Lakeland Electric service territory.

·         Lakeland Electric restoration efforts are now concentrating on approximately 3,000-5,000 scattered outages throughout the system.

·         A hangar that houses some Lakeland Police operations sustained damage to a hangar door that some supporting structure that supports the door was damaged due to the storm.  No one was injured at the hangar and Lakeland Police operations resume within the facility.

·         Sun n Fun has reported damage to at least 40 aircraft at the Fly-In but note they are still assessing damage on the grounds.  Numerous tents on the grounds were damaged but only minor injuries have been reported at this time.


According to the National Weather Service, severe weather blew through Lakeland with heavy rain and high winds.  The severe weather caused damage to trees, power loss and damage to aircraft at the Sun n Fun Fly-In.

Restoration efforts are a priority and Lakeland Electric is now completing work on numerous scattered outages with approximately 3,000-5,000 homes without power. Restoration will take place through the night. At one point there were 11 closed circuits causing numerous areas in the Lakeland Electric service territory to be without power.

A hangar that houses some Lakeland Police operations sustained damage to a hangar door and supporting door structure due to the storm.  No one was injured because of the damaged door and Lakeland Police operations resume within the facility.

Sun n Fun has reported damage to at least 40 aircraft at the Fly-In but note they are still assessing damage on the grounds.  Numerous tents on the grounds were damaged but no serious injuries have been reported at this time.

Lakeland, Florida  – March 30th, 2011 – Direct Air, an air service with corporate headquarters located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina announced today it will begin providing non-stop jet service between four cities to Lakeland Linder Regional Airport and the following markets beginning June 23rd, 2011: Niagara Falls-Buffalo, New York (serving greater Toronto, Canada); Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Hagerstown, Maryland; and Springfield, Illinois. 

As part of the opening celebration, Direct Air is offering passengers flying between these new markets a special introductory fare of “$79 for 79 Hours”.  This promotion begins with the press conference on Wednesday, March 30th and will end Saturday, April 2nd at midnight. Reservations can be booked at or by calling Direct Air’s Reservations Department at 1-877-432-3473.

Lakeland Airport Director Gene Conrad reported Direct Air will begin providing service with 10 flights per week. The schedule will offer Thursday and Sunday flights between Hagerstown and Lakeland and also flights between Myrtle Beach and Lakeland.  On Friday, Saturday, and Monday, nonstop flights will be offered between Lakeland and Niagara Falls NY /Toronto  and also between Lakeland and Springfield, Ill .

Conrad continued by saying, “What a tremendous opportunity this new partnership between Direct Air and the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport presents for Polk County and the City of Lakeland.  We have made tremendous strides to prepare our airport facility for an opportunity like this and Direct Air recognizes the potential of this airport  because of its central location in the heart of Florida.  We look forward to the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport serving as a gateway for visitors to our region and a convenient travel option for our local residents.”

Kay Ellison, Managing Partner of Direct Air said “We are incredibly excited to be basing an aircraft in Lakeland and expanding our presence in Central Florida.  We want to be known as the “go-to” air service for nonstop flights and low fares to Florida. We believe a long and very successful partnership with Lakeland Linder Regional Airport and the surrounding community will develop quickly as we work together to accomplish our common goals.”

Judy Tull, CEO of Direct Air said “Direct Air has built a strong niche service developing underserved markets offering convenient service via smaller, secondary airports as an alternative to high fares and lengthy travel times at big airports. The Lakeland Region is attractive to our business model and philosophy because of its strategic location situated between Orlando in Central Florida, and Tampa / St. Petersburg on Florida’s west coast. Our passengers will find it as an economical alternative to the busy and stressful larger airports in Orlando and Tampa."

Direct Air President Ed Warneck commented by saying, “The partners of Direct Air all agree that we will be a vital component in expanding and growing the Orlando West region of Central Florida.  Direct Air projects a $33,462,000.00 annual economic impact based on a conservative 75% per cent load factor will flow into the Central Florida / Lakeland region from the 1,200 inbound seats per week, totaling 62,400 inbound passenger seats per year. It is Direct Air’s goal to grow the market through increased frequency and adding new destinations as we have done in our other markets.”

Direct Air has been offering non-stop and direct jet flight service since 2007.   The company is pleased to add Lakeland, FL, and Hagerstown, MD to its current markets:  Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Pittsburgh, Pa. ; Newark, N.J.; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Columbus, Oh.; Plattsburgh, N.Y.; Toledo, Oh.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Worcester, Mass.; Allentown, Pa.; Rockford, Ill.; Springfield, Ill.; Melbourne, Fla.; Orlando-Sanford, Fla.; Punta Gorda, Fla., and West Palm Beach, Fla.  All Direct Air flights are public charters operated on Boeing 737-400, 150 passenger jet aircraft by Sky King Airlines featuring 12 First Class and 138 coach leather seating.  Direct Air is excited to be flying its one-millionth passenger in 2011.

Airfares are one way beginning at $99 each way and increase in increments based on availability. First Class seats are available for a $100 upgrade each way. Seat assignments in advance require a $10 purchase per person. There is an additional charge for baggage and surcharges may apply for excess/overweight checked baggage.  A convenience fee of $15 each way will be accessed. Air fares do not include Federal Segment Fee of $3.50 per segment (A segment is defined as one take off and one landing), Passenger Facility Charges (PFC) up to $4.50 and September 11th Security Fee of $3.70 per departure.

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Direct Air Media Relations

Kelsey Dunn
(843) 916-9700


A grand opening ceremony was held on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 for the new Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA) facility located at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on the Sun ‘n Fun campus.

CFAA is Kathleen High School’s aviation-oriented career academy. In the academy, students are challenged to reach high levels of achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in preparation for high-tech careers in the fields of aviation and aerospace.

The new 58,000-suare-foot CFAA was funded by a $7.5 million grant from the Aviation Education Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by renowned pilot James Ray.

The grand opening coincided with the kick-off of Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In 2011 at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.

Watch the Press Conference 

The Florida Department of Transportation has launched plans for widening US 98 in South Lakeland, increasing this 4-lane road to a 6-lane highway.  Due to the CSX railroad right-of-way on the east side, the only area for lanes to be added is on the west side, where two additional lanes are planned.  The reconstruction of US 98 in this area will conflict with our existing water main along the east side of US 98.  The pipe relocation project includes digging a trench, installation of a twelve inch water main, and construction of a new compacted road base which is designed to then support the new driving surfaces.

City Water Distribution crews are working on an accelerated schedule to relocate the water main. The relocated main is being aligned so as to not conflict with the later road work, storm sewers, drainage structures and other road improvement activities.   The new water main will be of materials better suited to be under road surfaces and will be buried at greater depths thereby preventing main failures due to the later road widening construction.  Due to the very narrow construction corridor our water main must be installed first as it is the deepest utility and must be placed prior to other utilities (cables, etc.).

Transitioning from old to new water mains should have no appreciable impact on our water customers, or adjoining business owners.  The new water main must be tested, disinfected and cleared for use by the Department of Health, before being put in service.  Once the new main is in service, we will then disconnect the old water main and properly abandon the line.

This project is expected to cost less than $300,000 dollars and is being performed by our own city crews giving us direct control of schedules, priority and work quality.  When working with active mains and customer services, we prefer to handle these projects internally to ensure uninterrupted customer services, prompt restoration of disturbed areas and to fully control the order of the work. 

According to project foreman, John Sanders, “To meet the demands of the schedule, for the project, a larger than normal crew is being utilized. The crew consists of two temporary workers, four pipefitters, one crew leader and two foremen.” The process consists of a backhoe digging a trench, pipefitters lowering the pipe in place, making the mechanical joint connections, running tracer wire, a front-end loader filling back in the dirt and a crew tamping down each of three one foot tall layers.  The crew’s daily installation schedule is averaging 120 feet of pipe, in 18 foot lengths. The pipe relocation project is expected to be complete by May 6th 2011.