The Vero Beach City Council has unanimously approved retaining Elite Airways (7Q, Portland Int'l Jetport) at Vero Beach, after a vote on January 21, according to report on the Treasure Coast Newspapers digital site. The council agreed to a two-year licence agreement with Elite and has promised to do whatever is necessary to retain the regional airline at the airport.

While there is still concern that the city could lose up to USD1 million dollars in grant money from Florida State funds, council officials hope to resolve the matter before July when the change is actioned. If the council fails to secure a positive outcome, there is a 60-day termination clause in the contract with Elite.

"I think we need to exhaust all efforts. This is not a decision that needs to be made today," said Councilman Robbie Brackett. "We need to take our time and move forward."

The council was concerned Vero Beach could lose commercial air service completely if it allowed Elite to leave. "If Elite leaves, they're not going to come back," Vice Mayor Laura Moss said. "It will be a lot more difficult to get another airline to come in."

Elite CEO and President John Pearsall was also at the council meeting and after the positive vote simply said: "We're very, very thankful."

The expected funding gap is due to increased traffic at the airport, mainly due to the success of Elite's services, resulting in the airport being reclassified from general aviation to commercial, and in turn making it eligible for less state funding.

The regional carrier, which commenced services at Vero Beach in 2015, currently flies 2x weekly to New York Newark and offers seasonal services to Asheville, Sarasota/Bradenton and Portland Int'l Jetport. Before Elite's current services, the last commercial flights to operate from Vero Beach were in 1996 when American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) terminated its operations to Miami Int'l.