Commissioners hear residents’ flight cancellation concerns

Renee Dilly and Stephanie Detrio talked with the Wood County Commission on Thursday about problems they have been facing with canceled flights at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — Local residents appeared before the Wood County Commission on Thursday to discuss problems they have been facing with canceled flights at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.

Stephanie Detrio and Renee Dilly talked with commissioners about issues they have had to deal with. Airport manager Jeff McDougle also attended he meeting.

”I fly frequently from the Wood County (Mid-Ohio Valley Regional) Airport or try to,” Detrio said. ”There have been issues along the way. I have no solutions, but I am willing to share with you.”

Detrio flies monthly for work and to visit family in Florida and New Hampshire, while Dilly flies more often.

”We are not here to cast blame; we just want to help,” Detrio said. ”We feel the economic development of this area is very contingent on that airport.”

Detrio said she has spent over $2,000 out of pocket in June because of two canceled flights out of the local airport through Via Air.

A flight was canceled on her recently and as she tried to rebook, other flights had increased their prices for the holiday weekend, she said. Increases in prices made it hard for her to get the flights she needed to where she wanted to go. As a result, she ended up canceling a trip to see family, Detrio said.

”I don’t want this airport to go out of business,” Detrio said. ”People are already driving to Charleston, Huntington, Columbus and Pittsburgh. You are losing all of your essential air service enplanements by people driving away.”

Detrio said she has two flights scheduled this month.

”I pray they go,” she said.

Detrio said she gets alerts about canceled flights, but Dilly did not. McDougle said she should be getting notices from the station manager from Via Air.

Commission President Blair Couch said the airport has lost business over the years because of businesses and industries leaving the area.

”The airline numbers have gone down,” he said. ”We have suffered through a whole bunch of essential air service problems.”

Some of the local companies won’t use air service to and from Charlotte, N.C., because of connections that have to be made from other airports around the country, Couch said.

Couch said some air service carriers have asked local governments to pay annual allotments to be able to enhance services to certain areas.

McDougle said many of the major airlines don’t operate in the field of airports the size of the local airport unless the local governments can subsidize it.

Couch said over $100,000 in funding for the airport has been cut.

Clarksburg, Morgantown and other cities have been struggling with air service, McDougle said. Previous air carriers at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airports have had more problems than Via Air has now, he said.

Commissioner Jimmy Colombo asked Detrio if she would be interested in serving on either the Wood County Airport Authority or the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Authority if an opening became available.