Hooters Cuts Not Affecting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport

PITTSTON TWP. -- Despite cutbacks elsewhere, Hooters Air is holding up its end of the deal at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, the airport director said Tuesday.

In December, high fuel prices and lack of demand forced Hooters to temporarily halt service to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where it is headquartered.

Barry Centini, director of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport, said that was not one of the destinations the airline committed to offering last year under its service agreement.

"We're not seeing it here," he said of the cutbacks.

Meanwhile, Lehigh Valley International Airport has seen flight reductions to Florida and suspension of the Myrtle Beach flights until March, said George Doughty, executive director of the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.

"They cut us back," said Doughty, adding there have been reductions in the frequency of Florida flights and the number of seats.

Hooters Air president Mark Peterson did not return a telephone request for an interview.

The airline flies to Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa/St. Petersburg airports from Lehigh Valley and from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Only the Orlando flights are direct from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The others stop at Lehigh Valley.

The local airport agreed to fund the Florida service but there were no employment conditions included in the deal, said Centini, who said he had received a number of calls about a published report of Hooters laying off local flight attendants.

The airport and its owners, Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, promised to provide funding for the airline that began service on Oct. 27. Centini said Hooters has submitted invoices to the airport and received nearly all of the $250,000 in promised funds.

The most recent passenger figures provided by the airport showed 449 people boarded Hooters' flights in October and 1,796 in November. December's numbers will be reported at tomorrow's airport board meeting.

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