Airport authority backs Dulles connection

WILLIAMSTOWN – The Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Authority is recommending Silver Airways to provide air service here.

Last week, the authority decided Silver Airways had the best services that could be offered at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport, Airport Manager Jeff McDougle said.

The company, headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was one of four airlines to submit bid packages last month to provide federally subsidized commercial air service at the airport.

Silver Airways has been providing service between the airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport since October 2010. Cleveland is no longer in the running for Essential Air Service flights because it is no longer a hub for any major airline, which makes it difficult for passengers to catch flights to their desired destination.

The airport had also received bid packages from Boutique Air, City Link Air and Sun Air Express.

Silver’s bid is for nine communities: Altoona, Pa.; Johnstown, Pa.; Greenbrier/White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.; Beckley, W.Va.; Clarksburg; Morgantown; Staunton, Va.; DuBois, Pa.; and Parkersburg. The airline will replace its Beech 1900 aircraft, which seat 19 passengers, and will use Saab 3400, 34-passenger, planes for these flights.

The Silver Airways bid of 18 flights a week, two non-stop and one one-stop round trips each weekday, to Washington Dulles International Airport best meets the needs of this community, said Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Authority President David M. Scott in a June 12 letter to the Office of Aviation Analysis at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Although we benefit greatly from our present flight frequency (we have four daily weekday flights with 19 passenger aircraft), the 34-seat Saab aircraft will enhance passenger convenience and give our airport true passenger growth potential,” Scott wrote. “In addition, Silver’s code share arrangement with United Airlines and numerous interline agreements with other air carriers were key factors in our decision. Lastly, Washington Dulles, being a United Airlines hub, provides our community with the greatest number of non-stop destinations; over 80 domestic and 40 international.”

Although the airport is recommending Silver Airways, the Department of Transportation will make the final decision, McDougle said. That decision is expected in two to three weeks, he added.

The department will determine the winning bid and then the airline will notify the airport of when service will begin.

“We are expecting it to be sometime in late August or early September,” McDougle said.