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Contour-American interline agreement starts this month

PARKERSBURG – An interline agreement allowing passengers to book flights between the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport and American Airlines destinations on a single ticket will go live this month.

Although testing of the agreement begins Saturday, flights can be booked in this manner via travel sites such as Expedia starting Oct. 23, airport Manager Glen Kelly told the Wood County Airport Authority during its regular meeting Tuesday in the airport conference room.

“It gives us visibility for anyone that’s flying inbound, say from San Francisco or Chicago or anywhere worldwide,” he said.

Contour provides service to and from Charlotte Douglas International Airport, with a stop in Beckley. While American has a host of connections at Charlotte, without the interline agreement, passengers have to recheck their bags and buy a separate ticket for flights between there and the local airport.

“Most people don’t know to do that,” Kelly said of people looking to fly into the area.

Contour’s service has continued to be reliable, he said, with two cancelled inbound flights in September that were made up the next day and no cancellations in August.

Enplanements, the number of people boarding outbound flights from the airport, were 461 in August and 456 in September, up from 360 and 165 the previous year under former carrier Via.

Total enplanements for the year through the end of September are 3,515, a figure that’s 450 more than the total for all of 2018, when Via’s tenure ended early in November and Contour didn’t take over until Dec. 5.

Two dozen passengers flew into the airport on one flight Saturday, Kelly said.

“Out of the 24, 20 were going to the WVU game from Charlotte,” he said.

Kelly said the airport has seen an increase in passengers from Eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia. Kelly said he’s invested some of the airport’s marketing money in the Wheeling and Northern Panhandle areas, including an electronic billboard near Cabela’s.

“We’ve had 80 people fly with us from that billboard. It was up four weeks,” he said.

The airport continues to advertise locally and elsewhere around the region in print and other outlets as well.

A second weekly flight to Tampa, Fla., is scheduled to start in Nov. 27. The new flights will be on Wednesdays, joining an existing Saturday offering that has had as many as 28 passengers on the 30-seat planes in recent weeks, Kelly said.

The new flights are already available for booking, and while no numbers have been released, Kelly said there appears to be a lot of interest.

“That’s tremendous,” authority member Terry Moore said, noting the flights are not subsidized, so passenger response will impact how long they continue to be offered.

The board voted 5-0 to approve a $418,054.99 fee to Michael Baker Engineering, the airport’s engineer of record, for surveying and mapping, construction planning, final design engineering and other services related to the upcoming $8 million runway rehabilitation project. That money will come from the federal funding for the project, with no local match required.

“All this will be paid by the grant,” Kelly said.

The authority discussed negotiations for the paving work during a closed executive session Tuesday. No action was taken on the matter. That portion of the work is expected to start in the spring.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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