'No Passenger Left Behind' action soars at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport

It's a problem Gabe Monzo wanted for some time and, now that it's here, he has landed a solution.

With June's passenger departure totals rising to 1,349 under Northwest Airlines at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, the Unity facility turned passengers away on a number of outgoing flights because its 34-seat Saab aircraft were filled, said Monzo, the airport's manager.

"When it comes to air service, having too many passengers is admittedly not the worst problem you can face, but we do understand that it's a major problem for the passenger who gets bumped from a flight," Monzo said Tuesday during a meeting of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority board.

In anticipation of such a scenario, the authority brokered a deal early last month to connect passengers denied boarding at Arnold Palmer Regional to available Northwest Airlines flights scheduled the same day at Pittsburgh International Airport in Allegheny County.

The process was successfully carried out three times, Monzo said.

"This is a collaborative effort between this airport, Northwest Airlines and Pittsburgh International," Monzo said. "If we were to give it a name, it would be No Passenger Left Behind."

Northwest officials will rebook "bumped" passengers to depart out of Pittsburgh. They will be taken by van or charter bus via Run Away Travel Inc. and Mountain View Tourways Inc.

Monzo credited the unique effort to the recently formed Pennsylvania Air Service Committee, which he chairs with Sharon A. Daboin, PennDOT deputy secretary for aviation, rail freight, ports and waterways.

"Small-market cities need to find ways to cope with limited schedules," Monzo said. "The air service committee is leading the charge in developing new ways to do that through airport cooperation. Partnering with Pittsburgh International is a new way of thinking and a tremendous opportunity."

In other business, Monzo said tickets are still available for the Dec. 9 Boscov's Travel charter flight to Orlando, Fla. The nonstop flight, which returns Dec. 15, will have space for 137 passengers on a Southwest Airlines 737 to Orlando International Airport.