Ceasing Cessna service: FedEx ends flight runs through area

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Jul. 30--WILEY FORD, W.Va. -- FedEx, one of the world's leading package delivery services, will cease regular flight operations out of the Greater Cumberland Regional Airport next week.

FedEx has contracted with Wiggins Airways, based in Manchester, N.H., to provide an average of one landing and one takeoff per day. Flights often head to Pittsburgh, where FedEx owns a fuel farm, before traveling to other locations. Beginning Monday, however, the Cessna no longer will fly for FedEx.

"We're just making some operational adjustments,"?said FedEx spokesman Jim McCluskey. "It's not anything different than what we've done across the network in recent months."

McCluskey said economic conditions and demand for service prevent the aircraft from being a viable option. Packages instead will be hauled by truck.

"The big point to make (is) it has absolutely no impact on service,"?McClusky said. "Our customers will continue to get the same high level of service. It doesn't affect any employees."

Airport manager Terry Malone said the loss of the aircraft will have little impact to the airport's operations. FedEx paid about $15,000 each year on tie-downs, hangar rental and de-icing services in winter weather.

"It's not a giant loss," Malone said.

The impact doesn't stop there. Any decrease in daily takeoffs and landings, not including local flights, will likely result in less federal entitlement funding, said Malone, speaking on the phone from Portland, Ore. Those figures change each year and 2008 figures were not readily available.

Malone said the airport is looking for another freight carrier to fly U.S. mail from Cumberland. FedEx had taken on that responsibility along with its primary duties of handling FedEx packages.

Contact Kevin Spradlin at kspradlin@times-news.com.

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