Thursday, November 30, 2017

Williamsport Regional Airport (KIPT) welcomes new 50-seat jet with water salute

A Montoursville woman was one of the first passengers aboard the Williamsport Regional Airport’s new aircraft, which flew into town with a water cannon welcome from Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon.

Kim McCloskey, who was visiting family in Florida for Thanksgiving, was more than pleased with the new Embraer 145 regional jet, which can seat 50 passengers, and is more modern and more quiet, she said.

“It was a very nice flight, very smooth,” McCloskey said, adding she and her husband travel often. “We always try to fly out of here and support the airport. Now it’s even more convenient.”

She added that some passengers knew ahead of time their plane would arrive to fanfare and a water wall, thanks to fire trucks parked on either side of the runway. Others, however, were surprised, she said with a laugh.

McCloskey was one of a handful of people who flew on the jet’s maiden voyage to Montoursville before it was reloaded with new passengers to fly back to Philadelphia. The airport now will solely be served by the Embraer 145s. The jets add 16 seats from the 34-seat Dash 8 turboprops previously used.

It also flies at higher altitudes, allowing pilots to bypass some weather problems that may have kept the Dash 8s grounded, airport officials said.

“We fly a lot faster, so we have to react quicker,” said pilot Patrick Balagot. “We also fly at higher altitudes.”

Balagot added it is common to have a water cannon salute to celebrate the retirement of pilots or aircraft, as well as to “christen” new aircraft. Though he prefers flying the jets, he said, the Dash 8s will be missed.

“We flew them for such a long time and they mean a lot to a lot of our pilots,” Balagot said.

Chris Logue, chairman of the Williamsport Municipal Airport Authority, said having the jets will be a great advantage to the travelling public.

“These improvements place us on the cutting edge of design and service,” he said. “This speaks to the confidence American Airlines puts in our airport.”

His cohort on the authority, Frank Pellegrino, added the airport will continue to push for new destinations, specifically naming an American Airlines hub in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“It’s within the jet’s capabilities,” Pellegrino said.

“One step at a time,” Logue smiled.

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MONTOURSVILLE -- Passengers looking to book a flight at the airport near Williamsport are in for an upgrade.

American Airlines is bringing jets to Lycoming County.

"Today is a milestone in the 88-year history of the Williamsport Regional Airport," said Chris Logue, chairman of Williamsport Municipal Authority Board.

It's the first of many landings at the Williamsport Regional Airport for American Airlines jets.

"It's kind of interesting. I didn't know what was going on, and then the water cannons salute, that was kind of neat," said Dean Kistner of Boston.

"The aircraft is a 50-seat Embraer EMB 145 regional jet," Logue explained.

Across the board, American Airlines is decommissioning its Dash 8 prop airplane.

J. Miller of Williamsport sent us a picture of the plane after one of its last flights into Williamsport.

The propeller plane has now been replaced with a much faster, more efficient jet.

"This is the first time we've been served by a true jet service," Logue said.

Elaine Rodman didn't know she'd be taking a brand new jet until she arrived at the terminal.

"It's exciting to be the very first one in a brand new seat in a brand new plane," Rodman said.

The new jet can hold about 30 more passengers.

Dean Kistner lives in Boston now. He used to live in Williamsport and took the flight in to visit family.

"It's kind of small, you know, but it's nice and new, clean. It was a good flight."

The American Airlines jet may be the newest addition to the airport right now, but it won't be for long. Workers recently started constructing a brand new terminal.

"Once capacity goes up and more and more people use the airport, other airlines become more and more interested in that market share. It's certainly a possibility," said Logue.

For now, this jet will be flying to and from Philadelphia twice a day, seven days a week.

You can check the status of your flight at the WNEP Flight Tracker.

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