Morgantown Wants Colgan Over 2 Others

Jan. 17--Morgantown City Council agreed Tuesday to recommend that the U.S. Department of Transportation approve Virginia's Colgan Air Inc. as the city's new air service provider.

The service, which must now be approved by the DOT's assistant secretary, is part of the federally subsidized Essential Air Service program.

"The SAAB-340 is the same type of aircraft -- a 34-seater -- that RegionsAir has been flying out of Morgantown Municipal Airport to Cleveland," said Bob Hammel, airport director. "They'll be flying under the US Airways Express brand. And if everything goes according to schedule, the transition from RegionsAir to Colgan will be made sometime after March 4."

RegionsAir, which had been flying out of Morgantown as Continental Connection, announced in November it was putting the company up for sale due to financial hardship.

Colgan would provide three shared flights (other passengers already onboard) each weekday and two nonstop flights on Saturday and Sunday from Morgantown to Pittsburgh International Airport.

Montana's Big Sky Transportation Co. and Arizona's Mesa Air Group also made bids to provide service. Parkersburg and Clarksburg already have recommended Colgan.

"The DOT asked for proposals for the service, and it is the DOT that will award the contract," said Dan Boroff, Morgantown city manager.

If approved, Colgan will provide service between the communities of Morgantown, Parkersburg and Clarksburg for an annual subsidy of $2,421,914.

"It's a two-year contract that would be reviewed at the end of that period," Boroff said. "We all need to work very hard to demonstrate the service is reliable and economical, because the end goal is for this service to pay for itself."

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