W.Va. airline project scrapped

January 22, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Greenbrier County man has grounded his plans to bring an airline to Martinsburg.

[cont. from front page]

On Thursday, one week after listening to Samuel DeLee outline a proposal to turn Berkeley County into the main hub for an airline that would serve 20 major cities, the County Commission got word that DeLee had pulled out of the project.

"We have reached a decision after not being able to raise additional working capital, that we will not be pursuing the endeavor of purchasing the airlines," DeLee wrote in a Jan. 16 letter to the Berkeley County Development Authority.

Addressed to Development Authority Executive Director Robert T. Crawford, DeLee's letter was dated two days after DeLee pitched the idea to the County Commission.


The phone number has been disconnected for DeLee's Fairlea, W.Va.-based company, Corporate Assets Resources Development, and DeLee has not responded to an e-mail request from The Morning Herald.

DeLee had asked the Berkeley County Commissioners to support a $4.5 million bond that he said was part of a $141.5 million proposal to buy the Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran and relocate the airline to Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport.

Berkeley County would have become the main hub for a passenger airline that would serve 20 major cities with daily flights to cities including New York, Detroit and Kansas City, Mo., according to DeLee's proposal.

The new airline would have been renamed Skyy Airlines and plans included a new 10,000-square-foot terminal and the creation of 520 jobs in Berkeley County over the next five years.

The plan was met with cautious excitement by Berkeley County officials who liked the idea but questioned DeLee's plans to have the airline in place by April.

"I said I had a million questions about his plan," said County Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart, pointing to DeLee's letter. "Those questions have been answered."

The plan sounded good, said County Commission President D. Wayne Dunham, adding it seemed DeLee was on a pretty fast track.

Dunham and Burkhart said they would not hesitate to look at another airline proposal should one come to their attention.

"You never know about things until you see them," said Burkhart.

AirTran officials have refused comment on DeLee's proposed $132 million buyout plans and a company official Thursday withheld comment pending discussions with the airline's legal consultants.

DeLee had tried to buy a charter air service near Lewisburg, W.Va., but the deal fell through when he couldn't get funding, according to Greenbrier officials.

The Herald-Mail Articles