Saturday, September 17, 2016

Via Air selected to serve Greenbrier Valley Airport

Touting special $5 fares for nonstop flights to Charlotte in October and $19 tickets for other Greenbrier Valley Airport flights purchased through from now until Oct. 20, Via Air is already celebrating its newly-won contract to provide commercial jet service for the airport in Maxwelton.

The long-awaited two-year contract for Via Airlines Inc. to provide Essential Air Service for Greenbrier Valley was announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday. It specifies that the airline will provide 12 nonstop round-trip flights per week between Greenbrier Valley and Charlotte Douglas International Airport in a 50-seat ERJ-145 jet, starting Oct. 1.

Subject to availability of funds, the federal government will give Via Air an annual subsidy of $4,731,866 to provide the service. Regular fares for Greenbrier Valley flights will range from $39 to $59 each way, inclusive of all fees and taxes.

Citing Via's history working with Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beckley, DOT's Sept. 13 order notes that the airline "has a proven record of providing reliable air service in West Virginia."

In addition, the order pointed out, "Via is strongly supported by the community, and the air carrier included in its proposal a marketing campaign that uses print, radio, TV, online marketing and local event sponsorships."

Airport director Stephen Snyder said the day after the contract was issued, he was already coordinating a "big launch event" with the airline.

Snyder had expressed concern to the Greenbrier County Airport Authority at a meeting on Sept. 8 about the impact the late finalization of the DOT contract would have on airline bookings. His specific concern centered on the fact that Silver Airways — the airport's current federally-subsidized commercial carrier — has been selling tickets for flights in November and December, by which time Silver will no longer be affiliated with Greenbrier Valley.

The DOT contract addresses the issue of carrier transition.

"The Department (of Transportation) expects Silver and Via Airlines Inc. to work together to make a smooth transition at Greenbrier," the contract stipulates. "In that regard, before Silver suspends service at Greenbrier, the air carrier must notify any passengers holding reservations for travel after the suspension date, assist those passengers in making alternate air transportation arrangements, or provide a refund of the ticket price, without penalty, if requested."

The order was signed by Jenny T. Rosenberg, acting Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs.


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