Staying Local

The recent order by the U.S. Department of Transportation continuing flights from the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport to Cleveland through June 14 was certainly good news. In February, Silver Airways, the airport’s carrier, announced it was going to end service to Cleveland no later than May 15 for several reasons, including United Airlines’ decision to no longer use the Cleveland airport as a hub. The transportation department’s decision extends that date by 30 days, to June 14.

However, in that bit of good news is another bit of good news – the increased number of people who have chosen to use the airport here instead of driving to Columbus or Pittsburgh in order to fly to their destination.

Since October 2010 when Silver Airways was chosen to be the airport’s carrier, enplanements have increased each year. Last year the number of people flying out of Wood County was more than 8,000 – the highest number of commercial passengers in more than seven years. The best year for Colgan Air, the previous carrier that provided service from 2007 to October 2010, was in 2008 when just over 5,100 passengers flew out of the local airport.

There are several reasons for this recent increase in the number of passengers. Silver Airways’ prices certainly have been more reasonable than Colgan. Colgan’s high ticket prices was the biggest reason people did drive to larger airports in order to fly from there to their destinations.

But possibly the biggest reason for the increased number of passengers is that Silver Airways’ schedule has been much more convenient for residents, with four round-trip flights during the week. These flights also leave at more convenient times for travelers than Colgan’s, which offered only two roundtrips with a later morning departure time.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently accepting bids from companies interested in becoming the airport’s carrier. Proposals are due to the transportation department by April 17. This always brings about a certain amount of uncertainty, but airport officials are confident Wood County’s airport will continue to be attractive to carriers, possibly even Silver Airways. They also believe that a similar level of service will be offered. Other than the carrier, the only other question is where the new hub will be.

Many people believed the Mid-Ohio Valley could not support a commercial airport. However, the number of people using the airport during the past few years proves that if flights leave at a convenient time and if prices for those flights are competitive, people will choose to fly from here.