Aug. 31--Huntington's Tri-State Airport is serious about increasing its number of business travelers. So much so, the airport plans to give a flier's employer a $100 rebate for a round trip flight or $50 for a one-way trip to certain destinations.
Money for the rebate program will come from a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve the airport's service, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., recently announced.
Huntington offers four daily flights to Cincinnati on Delta and five daily flights to Charlotte, N.C. on US Airways.
Airport management also will use the Small Community Air Service Development Program grant to recruit more airline services and pay for a marketing program that includes television, radio and billboard ads.
"Tri-State has shown that it has been innovative in finding new ways to improve themselves and expand their service, and I am pleased to be able to help in that process," Rockefeller said in a prepared statement.
Flights to the airport's top 20 destinations will be eligible for the rebates, said the airport's Marketing Director Beckie McKinley.
"Our goal is to increase the number of passengers traveling out of the airport because we want to rebuild that traffic volume," she said. Now, about 70 percent of the airport's potential passengers catch flights elsewhere, according to the grant application.
But, the number of passengers using Tri-State is increasing. Through July, 30,624 people have flown out of the airport this year, compared with 24,945 for the same time last year. Since November, more passengers have flown from the airport each month than the same month the previous year.
This promotion targets business passengers because those are the customers who use the airport the most, McKinley said. About 80 percent of people who fly in and out of Tri-State do so for business.
The rebate program should start within 15 to 30 days, said Airport Director Larry Salyers. Businesses will get their rebates once travel is completed and airport officials determine the trips satisfied the program's rules. Salyers estimates the rebates will be sent out on a monthly or semi-monthly basis.
The program should last about six weeks.
Huntington is six of seven West Virginia airports that have now received grants from the Small Community Air Service Development Program. Rockefeller, the ranking member on the Senate Aviation Committee, helped establish the grant program. He also secured an increase for the program in 2003 and helped get the program reauthorized through 2007.
Tri-State Airport's Top 20 Destinations
1. Orlando, Fla.
2. Tampa, Fla.
5. New York
6. Charlotte, NC
7. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
8. Dallas/Fort Worth, Tex.
9. West Palm Beach, Fla.
10. Fort Myers, Fla.
11. Jacksonville, Fla.
12. Washington, D.C.
13. Las Vegas
14. New Orleans
17. Kansas City, Mo.
19. Los Angeles
Source: Tri-State Airport
A West Virginia airport terminal was evacuated Thursday after two bottles of liquid found in a woman's carry-on luggage twice tested positive for explosives residue.
Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport is offering 10 percent cash rebates on all flights out of the airport between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30.
The impact of the cost cuts so far has included fewer flights, and smaller planes with fewer seats.