Contour to take flight at Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Wednesday

WILLIAMSTOWN — The drought of commercial flights at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport is scheduled to end Wednesday morning when new carrier Contour makes its inaugural flight to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The Tennessee-based company has been slated to start then since the U.S. Department of Transportation approved its bid to provide federally subsidized Essential Air Service at the local airport this fall. Previous carrier Via Airlines was expected to provide service through Tuesday, but the company in early November canceled its remaining flights because maintenance issues had left Via without enough aircraft to serve the route.

Maintenance-related cancellations sapped the optimism Via brought with it when it began serving the airport in the fall of 2016.

Wood County Airport Authority President Bill Richardson said officials have received “glowing” recommendations from airports served by Contour in California, Georgia and Mississippi about the company’s service and reliability. Reliability was heavily emphasized by Contour CEO Matt Chaifetz when he and other company representatives came to the airport in October for a Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley event.

“The airport authority is very excited that Contour has selected us for service,” Richardson said.

Richardson will be on that first flight Wednesday morning.

“I wanted to fly it so that I could … judge for myself,” he said.

Richardson believes the fact that Contour is flying a 30-seat regional jet, as opposed to the turboprop craft with the same capacity used by Via, will appeal to customers.

“As long as I’ve been on the airport authority, people have said, ‘Why can’t we have jet service?'” he said.

The Wood County Airport Authority oversees operation of the airport. Earlier this week, the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Authority, the airport’s marketing arm, voted to utilize $12,500 in funds from the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission to market the new service. That money has been held in reserve for a while as officials waited to see if Via’s reliability would improve before they committed funds to market that service.

Airport Manager Glen Kelly said the airport’s funds will work in concert with Contour’s own marketing efforts.

The holiday season is a high-traffic time for the airport, Kelly said. So far, he estimates about 200 passengers have booked flights out of the local airport on Contour.

“The good news is the service will be here for the customers,” Kelly said.