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City airport hopes to lure new commercial airline

January 28, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

The Hagerstown Regional Airport is "aggressively marketing" for a new commercial airline in hopes of expanding service and cutting costs for travelers, according to economic development and airport officials.

Airport officials and Tri-State and Virginia government and business leaders on Thursday met with Atlantic Coast Airlines to present statistics and other information supporting the need for additional airline service in the four-state region, according to the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission and the Hagerstown Regional Airport Commission.

Currently, USAir Express is the only airline which flies routes from Hagerstown, shuttling travelers to a larger airport in Pittsburgh, Pa.

"We get calls quite a bit for service to destinations other than Pittsburgh," said Ed Rakowski, operations manager at the Hagerstown airport. "People want choices."

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An airline which transported passengers from Hagerstown to Baltimore-Washington International Airport discontinued its service two years ago due to lack of available pilots, Rakowski said.

Airport and economic development officials have been working ever since to bring another airline to Hagerstown, according to County Commissioner John Schnebly.

There is a regional market for flights to Dulles, BWI and a variety of other destinations, said Hagerstown Regional Airport Manager Carolyn Motz.

"We need more service from our airport," said Motz, adding that USAir Express would support the addition of another carrier.

United Express-affiliate Atlantic Coast Airlines, which flies to 52 destinations and calls Dulles its hub, would make a "good match" for the Hagerstown airport, Schnebly said.

The increased competition would also provide many benefits to commuters, he said.

Though no commitments have been made, the Thursday meeting with Atlantic Coast Airlines was "very cordial" and "productive," Rakowski said.

"It was very encouraging," he said.

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