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Airline eliminates flights to Baltimore

December 12, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

USAirways Express flights from Hagerstown to Baltimore, used by about 25,000 people a year, are expected to be eliminated starting Tuesday, USAirways and Washington County Regional Airport officials said Friday.

The decision follows problems with the Baltimore flights that started last September, said Airport Manager Carolyn Motz.

The flights were cancelled for a week that month because of crew problems, Motz said.

Motz said the elimination of the flights has nothing to do with the local airport, but rather problems with Mesa Airlines, the New Mexico carrier that operates the service.

Mesa Airlines is one of two "express carriers" that operate similar to franchises to run the USAirways Express service locally, Motz said. Motz said she was told that Mesa is experiencing a crew shortage due to training problems.

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Mesa Airlines also cancelled service in other cities, Motz said.

Mesa officials could not be reached for comment.

Motz said she hopes to convince officials with USAirways, which owns the service, to add extra flights here to make up for the cancelled service.

"We're working very hard to expand the service for the demands of the community. The market is here. We know it's here," Motz said.

USAirways spokesman David Castelveter declined to speculate on whether additional flights will be added. Baltimore flights will now be routed through Pittsburgh, Castelveter said.

Mesa decided on Thursday it was eliminating the flights, Motz said.

Castelveter said it was USAirway's decision to end the flights.

The decision left USAirways Express passengers upset.

Tim Tungett, a computer programmer from Jacksonville, Fla., who takes the trip to Baltimore every week for business, said he has already booked flights through March.

"Obviously, I'm a very aggravated individual. No doubt USAirways and I will have some words about it," Tungett said.

"I'm not happy about it," said Douglas Wallace, who has been using the Baltimore flight to get home following work training at Grove Worldwide in Shady Grove, Pa.

Most passengers use USAirways Express to connect with flights out of Baltimore or Pittsburgh, Motz said. There are five USAirways Express flights in and out of the local airport daily for Baltimore passengers.

Chautaugua Airlines operates the USAirways Express flights from Hagerstown to Pittsburgh. About 70,000 people a year fly from Hagerstown to Pittsburgh, Motz said.

The Pittsburgh flights are not affected by the disruption in service, Motz said.

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