Jan. 28 -- Colgan Air will replace RegionsAir at the Morgantown Municipal Airport and airports in Clarksburg/Fairmont and Parkersburg, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., announced.
"The people in these regions deserve reliable air service. The selection of Colgan Air to provide air service to these three areas is certainly welcome news," Rockefeller said.
Rockefeller, who is chairman of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, also praised the Department of Transportation for temporarily increasing money so the current air service provider, RegionsAir, can continue offering essential air service until Colgan Air takes over.
Essential air service is a mandate by Congress requiring that small communities be provided with air service, said Bob Hammel, Morgantown Municipal Airport director.
Now RegionsAir will use the emergency money to continue its flights to Cleveland until Colgan Air takes over with flights to Pittsburgh, said Bob Hammel, director of Morgantown Municipal Airport.
Colgan Air could take over as early as mid-March, Hammel said.
"I'm sure that everyone is pleased that we have a new reliable service with a great aircraft," Hammel said.
It uses the 34-passenger SAAB340 aircraft, whereas RegionsAir's were 19-passenger planes, Hammel said.
Colgan Air, operating as US Airways Express, will operate three flights a day during weekdays, and two flights each day Saturday and Sunday, for a total of 19 flights per week. Flights will be to Pittsburgh, he said.
It will serve the airports for two years, Rockefeller said.
The company provided service to Morgantown for a time during the late 1980s to early 1990s, Hammel said.
Three companies bid to take over the federally subsidized commercial air service at the airports. Hammel said the communities decided to recommend Colgan Air to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In Morgantown, it was Morgantown City Council who decided, Hammel said.
RegionsAir, operating as Continental Connections, had another year to go on its contract to provide service to the airports, but was unable to fulfill that contract, Hammel said.
"We saw no reliability, and said we need a new air service here," he said.
He said he did not know the cost of tickets for Colgan Air, but said the cost likely won't change much.
On Continental Airlines' Web site on Saturday evening, a Continental Connections flight ticket from Morgantown to Cleveland, departing at 2:35 p.m. Friday, and returning at 5:05 p.m. Sunday, cost $287.50 with taxes and fees.
RegionsAir also offers service to 10 destinations from St. Louis, where it operates as AmericanConnection.
Colgan Air, Inc., operates as Continental Connection, United Express and US Airways Express, offering daily scheduled service to 52 cities in 13 states, according to its Web site, colganair.com.
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