WILLIAMSTOWN - New federal laws will not directly affect the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport but will help its passengers, the manager said.
"It will help the public, in general, everywhere," said airport manager Terry Moore. "There's nothing specific to the Mid-Ohio Valley, but it will help our passengers."
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently adopted rules requiring improved disclosure of all major airline fees, including baggage.
Moore said these new rules are general disclosure rules for all airlines and affect every passenger throughout the country.
"These new rules give passengers more visibility about where the money in their ticket price is going," he added.
The DOT has also announced plans for supplementary rules to address full disclosure of all fees airlines charge, including seating and boarding. While they are being considered, passengers are not expected to see the results until next year.
The DOT has taken this step in providing some resolution for consumers on the question for baggage, but these fees, and more than a hundred others, remain functionally "hidden" because they are unavailable for all-in price comparisons across airlines prior to the time of purchase, according to the Open Allies for Airfare Transparency, a coalition of individuals, companies and organizations that believes all airline fares and fees should be available to the traveling public.
"Really, the thing I find most interesting about this latest ruling is the new refund rule," Moore said. "It allows you to make reservations without having to pay charges outright and will allow you to make changes to your flights without having to pay the $150 fines airlines make passengers pay for those changes."
With 50 percent or more of all airline tickets purchased via traditional travel agents or online travel sites, all up-to-the-minute and transactable fee information should be provided through every distribution channel in which an airline chooses to sell, so businesses and consumers can fully compare prices and purchase at points of sale of their choosing, Open Allies for Airfare Transparency added.
Also, Moore said the recent passage of the Federal Aviation Association's (FAA) 23rd extension by the U.S. House of Representatives to continue aviation programs and excise taxes through Feb. 17 should help the local airport keep its status quo.
"This will likely be the last extension of the current legislation because Congress has finally resolved everything that would have affected us," Moore said. "Once they do pass it, we will be able to keep things running as-is."
The FAA reauthorization has been held up for several months because of a labor proposal involving efforts by airline workers to organize. Because of a compromise between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Congress is expected to pass a multi-year bill next month.
Congress has been passing month-to-month budgets for the Small Community Air Service Development and Essential Air Service (EAS) programs for which five West Virginia airports receive funds or service.
One of the arguments was to eliminate EAS, which provides government-subsidized commercial service to more than 150 rural community airports, including the local airport, Morgantown and Clarksburg.
Since January last year, both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have passed versions of legislation that will keep EAS, but have caveats that would eliminate subsidies for airports within 70 miles of a mid-size hub such as Port Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh International Airport in Pittsburgh, Pa., and airports that provide commercial air service to fewer than 10 passengers a day.
"There are expected to be a couple of cuts, but we aren't expected to see any changes and will keep service and things running as they do now," Moore said.