CHARLESTON, W.Va., May 1 — Yeager Airport officials have agreed to offer a baggage handling service to passengers of AirTran, as the airline prepares to provide new flights in and out of Charleston.
AirTran Airways unveiled on April 13 a flight between Charleston and Orlando.
In attracting AirTran to Yeager, airport Director Rick Atkinson said, officials agreed to provide a ground-handling service that would move baggage on and off the planes.
The service will not provide a profit to the airport, but Atkinson said the airport will be compensated by other factors brought in by the addition of AirTran.
"Even though we will break even on this service, by having AirTran here we'll bring in a lot of new revenue we would not have had before, through parking, restaurant concessions and such," Atkinson said.
Baggage handling is not something new to the airport, but most airlines contract companies to do it for them, Atkinson said.
"It is more common now than before," Atkinson said, noting that Tri-State Airport offers the same service for Allegiant Air in Huntington.
To properly provide the service, the airline needs to purchase belt loaders, carts, ground-power equipment and other gear.
The equipment could be used on any aircraft, but Yeager has to have a contract with that aircraft before providing the service.
Atkinson said the airport is purchasing reconditioned equipment, which will cost about $52,000. The company providing the equipment is Global Ground Services.
The Central West Virginia Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau is providing the airport with a grant to pay for the equipment.
Yeager has not provided a service like this before, but they have talked about it with other airlines.
"It's an added service; it will not take away from the core services we provide," Atkinson said.
Atkinson said part-time employees with experience at the airport will be hired to operate the service. He said they will be required to work three hours a day, three days a week, since AirTran is only offering one flight in connection with Yeager.
Discount air carrier AirTran Airways is conducting an online poll asking people which city they should fly to next, and Charleston is one of the 49 choices.
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