MOV sees increases at airport

WILLIAMSTOWN – As the Christmas and New Year holidays become closer and closer, more and more people are expected to use the air service provided through the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.

“We have lost quite a few flights because of problems within the airline, but our loyal customers have been sticking with us,” said airport manager Terry Moore. “We are pleased and grateful to those who are still using our service while the airline rebuilds.”

Moore, who will soon be retiring as manager, said the airport’s provider of commercial air service is Silver Airways, which provides 48 flights per month to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport under the United Airways banner. The company has experienced a host of issues in the past few months that range from maintenance to pilot problems and other negative troubles.

“They were bought out by a venture capital firm, which is all about money and those people don’t know how to run an airline,” said incoming airport manager Jeff McDougle. “Now a group of aviation people are taking over and I feel better about that, but what is going on right now is out of our local hands.”

Despite all of the negative problems and multiple canceled flights, Moore said the airport is expecting a relatively busy holiday season.

“To compare this December to last December, I don’t think it will be all that different, numbers wise,” Moore said. “We are hoping to break 700 passengers again for the month, which is a good number.”

McDougle, who will officially be named manager when Moore retires on Jan. 8, 2014, said the holiday season is traditionally the heaviest travel time of the year.

“Between Thanksgiving and New Year is when most people travel and airports see the largest number of people in the terminals,” McDougle said. “This past week I have seen more college students than ever before and I also saw a woman with two young children, which is very rare here.

“We hardly ever see children get on or off the planes here because our typical passengers are business travelers,” he continued. “So, seeing kids here was really nice.”

In September there were nearly 750 passengers, October saw almost 730 and November had more than 700 passengers fly to Cleveland as a destination or a stop to their destination.

“Even though there are issues, we are expecting to break 8,000 passengers this year, which will make it the best year for enplanements since I started seven years ago,” Moore said.

When Moore began as manager in 2006, the airport was seeing about 1,000 passengers a year. The airport had roughly 7,800 passengers in 2012.

The number of passengers has almost doubled since Silver Airways, formerly Gulfstream International Airlines, began offering service to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in October 2010. The last time in recent history the airport had anywhere close to this number was 2008 where the airport had 5,169 enplanements with three flights a day to Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., from former carrier Colgan Air, Moore said.

Passenger numbers are important because airports that have at least 10,000 enplanements per year receive $1 million in federal Airport Improvement Project funds annually; airports with fewer passengers receive $150,000.