Yeager director: Lack of Cincinnati flight not a problem


May 27--CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Yeager Airport's director sees the elimination of the airport's only direct flight to Cincinnati and the addition of another flight to Detroit as a positive development for local residents.

Flights into the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport have dropped from about 600 flights a day in the recent past to about 200 a day, Rick Atkinson said at a Wednesday meeting of the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority.

"The Cincinnati airport will also have fewer and fewer connections to other airports," he said.

"Detroit is the better of the two airports in terms of international connections, especially for executives of Toyota and other car companies," Atkinson said. "Detroit has non-stop service to Nagoya, the city in Japan where Toyota is based.

"And Detroit is a lot less delay-prone for connecting flights than Chicago, because of the air traffic and weather in Chicago," Atkinson said.

"We also have a pretty significant auto industry in West Virginia," Atkinson said. "Last year, our traffic to Detroit plummeted.

"But in recent months, the auto industry has been rebounding. That is helping Detroit and air traffic into the city," Atkinson said.

Also, board members were told that passenger traffic at Yeager is doing well compared to many other airports.

"A lot of hub airports are down. But our capacity is up, compared to other airports our size," said Brian Belcher, Yeager's marketing director

American Airlines flights to Chicago and AirTran's flights to Orlando, Fla., are adding passengers, Belcher said during Wednesday's monthly meeting of the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority.

Go, AirTran's national in-flight magazine, plans to publish a feature article about the Charleston area in its September issue.

Atkinson said the airport will have 74 more flights this September than last, a 10.9 percent increase. Passengers will have increased by 3,100 over the past year.

Delta Airlines and its subsidiaries have 35 percent of all traffic in and out of Yeager airport. US Airways has 31 percent and United Airlines has 18 percent.

Bill Forbes, a member of the Regional Airport Authority, said 75 percent of all planned canopy and building improvements to the airport's main terminal have been completed.

The airport authority is also working to improve wetlands along Barlow Drive, including the restoration of 3,800 feet of a local stream that was damaged during the recent expansion of Yeager Airport's runways. The wetlands restoration is scheduled to be completed by next March.

Reach Paul J. Nyden at or 304-348-5164.