WILLIAMSTOWN The United States Department of Transportation announced Silver Airways will provide new service to the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport beginning Oct. 1.
"The DOT sent the announcement at 5 p.m. Friday," said airport manager Jeff McDougle. "I am a little surprised it only took them a month to make the decision because this was very complicated for the DOT for many reasons."
Those reasons include the number of airports involved in the bid process as well as a variety of service options provided by the four airlines that sent bid packages to the DOT. At least one of the four airlines bid for service to as many as 11 communities in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Last month, the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Authority recommended the airline to provide flights to Washington Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.
"We didn't expect the announcement for another month or so, so we are pleased," McDougle said. "I know I am happy it is now over and we can look forward to the new service."
The new service will see Silver Airways provide 18 flights a week, including 12 nonstop to and from Dulles with the other six flights stopping in either the Morgantown or Clarksburg airports along the way.
"One of the reasons we are pleased with this choice by the DOT is the newer, larger plane," said McDougle. "Not only does it have a restroom, but there will also be a flight attendant."
The current service to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is in a Beech 1900 aircraft, which sits 19 passengers, while the new service will use Saab 3400 planes, which seat 34 passengers.
Cleveland was not in the running for the new service because it is no longer available through the Essential Air Service program, of which the local airport receives commercial service. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport lost its EAS flights because it is no longer a hub for any major airline, which makes it difficult for passengers to catch flights to their desired destination.
Silver's bid included nine communities Altoona, Pa.; Johnstown, Pa.; Greenbrier/White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.; Beckley, W.Va.; Clarksburg, W.Va.; Morgantown, W.Va.; Staunton, Va.; DuBois, Pa.; and Parkersburg.
Passengers who have scheduled flights to Cleveland after Oct. 1 will be re-accommodated by the airline, McDougle said.