Via cancels remaining flights at MOV airport

Contour service slated to begin Dec. 5

WILLIAMSTOWN — Via Airlines’ time in the Mid-Ohio Valley is finished.

Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Manager Glen Kelly said the company confirmed with him Monday that its remaining flights between the local airport and Charlotte Douglas International have been canceled. The two 30-seat, turboprop planes that would provide the service are both down because of maintenance issues, he said.

“They say they don’t have any airplanes,” he said.

Calls to a Via spokesman and the company’s Florida headquarters were not returned Monday afternoon.

Commercial service is not expected to resume at the airport until Dec. 5, when new carrier Contour Airlines takes over.

“We hate this for our customers; however, with all the flights that have been canceled (recently), I would rather our customers know now these flights are canceled,” Kelly said.

Via is completing the second year of a two-year contract to provide federally subsidized Essential Air Service to the Mid-Ohio Valley airport. After coming in with an impressive reliability record at Beckley and a strong start in the fall of 2016, the number of passengers leaving the airport dropped in early 2017 as the company dealt with maintenance issues and expanding to more airports in the state.

When the EAS contract came up for renewal, the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Authority recommended Tennessee-based Contour because of its reliability and reputation for rehabilitating airports that have had poor service.

Since the July recommendation, Kelly said, he’s had little communication with Via’s corporate office prior to last week. The carrier canceled half of its flights in October, leaving the airport with just 76 enplanements, the lowest monthly total since a two-month period in 2007 with no enplanements at all.

Kelly said he has notified the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Transportation Security Administration of the situation. While he’s exploring options, it’s not known at this time whether moving up Contour’s start date is possible, due to a number of regulatory and training needs.

“There’s a whole litany of things that need to be done before we can start,” Kelly said.

Contour will provide flights to Charlotte, by way of Beckley, on a 30-seat jet.

“I’m looking forward to a good service that really supports our customers,” Kelly said.