Laurie Antonio, of Unity Township, plans to take a trip to Orlando, Fla., in September.
If Antonio had her way, she would fly out of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe and return there.
"This would save the people the drive into Pittsburgh and Cleveland airports and would expedite their flights by not having layovers in Detroit and other cities -- a better, easier, more relaxing trip all around," Antonio said.
That scenario could come to fruition.
Airport manager Gabe Monzo recently met with principals of the Reading-based Boscov's Travel, which provides charter service flights to and from Orlando from 26 locations in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and eastern Pennsylvania. The company is considering service from Unity Township to Orlando using chartered Southwest Airlines 737s in a variety of vacation travel and cruise package offerings.
"What we need now to make this happen is a strong showing of demonstrable interest for this type of service," Monzo said.
"Gabe met with us and proved to be very dynamic, aggressive and excited about the idea of providing this service at Arnold Palmer Regional," said Boscov President Pat Cinfici. "Now we're trying to get more of a feel for how the entire community feels about having such a service."
The comments of people like Antonio could be crucial to the process, Monzo said.
"We really have to get out, beat the streets, and see how this community feels about this," Monzo said. "I think it's a no-brainer for this region, particularly with the convenience of the closeness of our facility and the parking availability. I think it's a comfortable fit."
Generous feedback is imperative because of the financial commitment necessary for Boscov's to provide the service at Arnold Palmer Regional, Cinfici said.
"We can put planes there, but we have to be certain that people are going to get on them," said Cinfici, whose company provides charters at airports in Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre.
The nature of charter flights means that people would have to schedule trips to Orlando around times when Arnold Palmer would offer flights, Monzo said.
"Lancaster offers five or six a year, while Wilkes-Barre does three or four a month. Hopefully, we'd fall somewhere in between that," Monzo said. "This has definitely been something that the people in this region have been wanting for a long time, and this is the best opportunity we've had to provide it."
Antonio sounds like she'd be first in line.
"I would take advantage of this charter in September. I would also be more inclined to make future trips and take advantage of other future charters that may come to the airport," Antonio said.
Other feedback on the matter should be mailed by March 31 to Gabe Monzo at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, 148 Aviation Lane, Suite 103, Latrobe, PA 15650, or via email at .
Arnold Palmer Regional offers charter flights to Atlantic City, N.J., and several destinations in Nevada, as well as daily commercial service by Northwest Airlines.
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