Hooters May Discontinue Florida Flights at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport

PITTSTON TWP. - Hooters Air service to Orlando could go the way of other Florida flights that were recently scratched.

The charter carrier stopped service to Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg/Clearwater from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport last week.

Airport director Barry Centini said high fuel prices and dwindling riders have forced the Myrtle Beach, S.C., airline to cut back service.

Those flights were extras Hooters Air added to its main Florida service to Orlando. That service could be in jeopardy, too, and the airport may not be able to recover the $325,000 in federal and county funds used to secure an 11-month contract with the carrier.

Centini said he was not certain if the airport had a legal claim if the carrier cuts short the contract that runs through September.

Repeated messages left with Mark Peterson, president of Hooters Air, have not been returned since Friday.

As was the case with the discontinued services, the Hooters Air Web site lists Orlando flights after March 26 and beginning on April 20 as ?Sold out.?

A spokeswoman for the Orlando Aviation Authority said she would check on the flights, but did not return a call by press time Tuesday.

However, neither Steve Belleme, a spokesman for the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, nor Michele Routh, a spokeswoman for the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, said their airports were notified by Hooters Air of any discontinuation of service from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Except for safety related issues, Hooters Air does not have to notify the Federal Aviation Administration of a change in schedules. Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman in the FAA?s Atlanta office said announcements about business decisions are left up to the company.

The U.S. Department of Transportation does not require that it be notified of a service cancellation, said agency spokesman Bill Mosely.

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