Winter weather keeps local passengers on the ground

WILLIAMSTOWN – The number of people who used the commercial service at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport last month was greatly affected by the weather, an official said.

In January, 357 passengers used the service by Silver Airways to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport; this is the worst January since 2010, said local airport manager Jeff McDougle.

“This is actually one of our worst months in four years,” McDougle said. “And the majority of the problems can be blamed on the weather.”

The decrease in passengers by almost half in one month – December saw 640 passengers use the service – was due to nearly half of the scheduled flights having been canceled.

Of the roughly 100 commercial flights the airport receives from Silver Airways per month, 48 were canceled in January with 40 of them because of weather issues. The other eight cancellations were due to mechanical or pilot issues, McDougle said.

“We lost about half of our flights last month, but it was one of those deals where it was out of our hands,” he added. “I know I and the other board members are very grateful to the flying members of the public who have stuck by us through this because it has been rough.”

Despite the lack of flights and passengers, the airport reported near record fuel sales with 26,000 gallons having been sold in the first month of 2014.

“This was our biggest January since 2009,” McDougle said.

One of the reasons for the large amount of mainly fuel sold was 13 United States military helicopters that stopped at the airport for fuel on their way to New Jersey for the Super Bowl last week, he said.

“They participated in the fly-over after the national anthem and may stop by again on their way back to their base in Kentucky,” McDougle said. “I hope they do.”

During the monthly meeting Tuesday, the Wood County Airport Authority approved to allow Jim Bennon, local pilot and president of the Mid-Ohio Valley Aviation Association pilots organization, to build a hangar on airport property.

The proposed building will be 60-feet-by50-feet, a total of 3,000 square feet, and be placed on the south ramp near the AirEvac facility.

This is the third hangar proposal the board has approved in the past year after current renter Glenn Hale asked to construct a roughly 7,200-square-feet hangar near the AirEvac facility and another roughly 7,000-square-feet hangar to house a jet being constructed near the terminal.