Friday, July 05, 2013

Local flights to Charleston promoted: Officials hope to bring intrastate flights to area

MARTINSBURG - While it is always difficult to expand or attract air service, Susan V. Chernenko, executive director of the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission, is always working at it.

"I'm always looking for an opportunity to talk about expanding existing air service in West Virginia and to try to attract new air service," she said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I have an opportunity to meet with airlines and I've been doing this for many years on a daily basis. It's very competitive."

One of those opportunities could be an intrastate commercial air service between Charleston's Yeager Airport and Martinsburg's Shepherd Field at the Eastern Regional Airport.

Chernenko recently had discussions with a commercial airline and Martinsburg was mentioned, she said.

"But I have no good news or update," Chernenko said. "Because of Martinsburg's location - it's so close to D.C. - and the length of its runway, and it doesn't have service, airlines should look at Martinsburg."

She said there could be an opportunity in the future to attract commuter or charter service to Martinsburg.

"The airport in Martinsburg is an asset to the community and the state," Chernenko said. "Maybe we'll get lucky."

Aero-Smith Inc. operates a charter service at Eastern Regional Airport, flying an eight-passenger, two-engine King Air 200.

Five airlines serve Yeager Airport, including American Airlines; United, which has flights to Dulles International Airport; Delta; Spirit Airlines; and U.S. Airways Express, which has flights to Reagan National Airport.

Six other West Virginia airports offer scheduled commercial air service: Morgantown; North Central West Virginia Airport in Bridgeport; Tri-State Airport in Huntington; Raleigh County Memorial Airport near Beckley; Wood County Airport near Parkersburg; and the Greenbrier Valley Airport at Lewisburg.

Hagerstown Regional Airport is home to two commercial airlines: Sun Air International, which has daily flights to Dulles International Airport, and Allegiant Air, which flies to Orlando, Fla.

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