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Hagerstown flights to Pittsburgh to continue

August 14, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

US Airways' bankruptcy is not expected to affect the airline's service from Hagerstown to Pittsburgh.

"We don't anticipate any impact to the schedule," said Scott Durgin, chief executive officer of Shuttle America, which operates the US Airways Express franchise at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

If US Airways planned to change its Hagerstown service, Shuttle America would already know, Durgin said Tuesday during a telephone interview from the company's Windsor Locks, Conn., headquarters.

For now, "it's normal operations," US Airways spokeswoman Ann Julsen said. "They're flying."

By 5 p.m. on Monday, the day after the bankruptcy filing, 97 percent of US Airways' flights were completed on time, the airline reported.

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Julsen said the airline has not announced any changes in service.

Hagerstown Regional Airport Manager Carolyn Motz said Tuesday that Shuttle America told her that service will stay the same.

US Airways is one of two airlines flying out of Hagerstown.

On Sunday, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows a company to operate while it restructures its debt and is protected from its creditors.

Motz said that US Airways, under various names, has flown out of Hagerstown for more than 50 years. It has four flights a day during the week and three a day on weekends.

Boston-Maine Airways began the Pan Am Clipper Connection - Hagerstown's other shuttle service - in December 2001.

The Pan Am Clipper Connection flies between Baltimore, Hagerstown, and Cumberland, Md.

When the shuttle started, the introductory fare was $59 round-trip from Hagerstown to Baltimore. The fare is now about $100.

The state is to subsidize the shuttle for three years. Ridership will be evaluated afterward to see if the subsidy should continue.

Motz said ridership on the shuttle has increased, but she didn't have numbers available.

Tim Troxell, acting executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said the Pan Am Clipper Connection "has gotten off to a slower start than everyone expected." Most of the problem, he said, might be the public's hesitancy to fly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Durgin said ridership of the US Airways Express has been "strong."

Shuttle America, which uses Saab 340 Turboprop planes, took over the Hagerstown franchise on May 5.

Chautauqua Airlines had operated the franchise for most of the last 20 years, Motz said. Chautauqua fills in occasionally for Shuttle America, but all of the planes are part of the US Airways Express, she said.

Shuttle America and Chautauqua Airlines are owned by Wexford Capital LLC in Connecticut.

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