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Students anticipate Bush’s visit

Maddie Hanna | Thursday, March 3, 2005

While some students are vying for tickets to President Bush’s speech at the Joyce Center Friday, and others are preparing to protest outside, still others are worrying about the prospect of spring break flight delays out of South Bend Regional Airport due to the arrival of Air Force One.

However, the only delays will occur during the 15 minutes before Bush’s arrival and the 15 minutes after his departure, airport executive director John Schalliol said.

The White House issued a media release Wednesday that included arrival and departure times for Air Force One, but asked news agencies to keep the information confidential for security reasons. Local television stations WNDU and WSBT, however, reported the president will arrive at the airport at 2:25 p.m., speak at the JACC at 4:45 p.m. and depart South Bend at 6:20 p.m.

According to Schalliol, the airport will not miss any flights, and the maximum delays will last for just 15 minutes.

“But we have those kinds of delays anyway, so it’s not a problem,” he said.

Schalliol did not expect major travel difficulties.

“There should be no serious ramifications,” Schalliol said, explaining that these measures were standard procedure when a President travels by plane.

Schalliol could not comment on further details regarding the trip.

“There are a lot of things going on with the airport staff, security, the Secret Service,” he said. “But nothing that affects anyone else or the traveling public.”

Many Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students flying out of South Bend on Friday are concerned about their travel arrangements.

“It kind of annoys me,” freshman Betsy Keough said. “It’s just the anxiety of the possibility [of problems].”

Keough, who is scheduled on a 7:30 p.m. flight to Atlanta, said she has been checking the Delta Web site frequently for any updates.

Sophomore Stacy Fredrich, scheduled on a 3:30 p.m. flight to Orlando, agreed with Keough.

“That would be kind of annoying, but it’s Bush, so what can you do,” Fredrich said.

Students also said they were confused and had no idea what would happen on Friday.

“I have no idea what’s going on,” said Darrin Albers, a junior who will be flying out on a charter plane Friday afternoon with a small portion of the band on the women’s Big East trip.

Similarly, freshman Antoinette Bronesky said, “I’m not sure what to expect, since we don’t really know the details about Bush’s visit. I don’t know how it will affect me.”

Bronesky, scheduled on a 6:40 p.m. flight to Cincinnati, said she didn’t think she could change her plans at this point.

“I heard today that the airport already knew [about Bush], so there aren’t flights scheduled while he’s here, but I don’t know if that’s true,” she said.

Saint Mary’s students received an e-mail yesterday from vice president of Student Affairs Linda Timm warning about traffic disruptions and urging them to plan ahead and check their departure times in advance.

“I know the roads are going to be closed, and I will leave earlier,” junior Cristina Ortega said.

Ortega said she would not switch her Friday morning flight to Texas unless the airport called to say there would be major delays.