New commuter takes off

Effective Sunday, Allegheny Airlines took over round-trip flights between Hagerstown and Pittsburgh.

Effective Sunday, Allegheny Airlines took over round-trip flights between Hagerstown and Pittsburgh.

May 03, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

HAGERSTOWN - Sunday marked the first day of round-trip flights out of Hagerstown Regional Airport being handled by Allegheny Airlines.

Allegheny, a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Airways, replaced Shuttle America as the provider for the round-trip flights between the regional airport and Pittsburgh.

The Sunday morning flight to Pittsburgh carried about 18 passengers, while the afternoon flight carried 20, said airport Manager Carolyn S. Motz. She said she expects the number of people flying to Pittsburgh on the commuter flights to increase during June and July.

Shuttle America, based in Fort Wayne, Ind., had been flying the commuter route under the US Airways banner for two years. Shuttle America notified airport officials in February that it would stop service in Hagerstown after April 30.


Motz has said people began canceling their flights from Hagerstown after Shuttle America's decision to drop the route became public. She said there was no disruption of service to Pittsburgh as a result.

Motz said Sunday that working with a direct subsidiary of US Airways will result in quicker connections and better service for customers flying out of Hagerstown.

Working with the subsidiary will make service from Hagerstown "more reliable," with fewer cancellations and fewer late takeoffs, said Kevin Trumble, a US Airways customer service manager based at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

Trumble said improvements with the new carrier include the use of a deHavilland Dash 8 turbo-prop airplane that can accommodate 37 passengers per flight - compared to 31 with the previous service - and a more spacious area for passengers.

Trumble said there are four flights on weekdays instead of three, and three on the weekends.

Trumble said the Allegheny flights will land inside the main area of Pittsburgh's airport rather than on the outskirts, making it easier for passengers transferring to other flights out of Pittsburgh.

Trumble said that in the past, those transferring to other flights leaving from Pittsburgh had to take an underground train to the main area of the airport.

Trumble also said using the new provider will make the regional airport more competitive with larger area airports to the east and southeast on flights to several designations.

"Some of our fares - Chicago, Indianapolis - are very competitive with larger area airports," he said.

Trumble said rates will be much cheaper if flights are booked about three weeks in advance. He said a flight to Chicago leaving today would cost a walk-up customer about $950. He said if that same customer booked three weeks ago, the price would be less than $210.

Trumble said the airport is not as competitive with Baltimore Washington International Airport for advance-purchase prices for flights to markets including New York and Boston.

Trumble and Motz said the regional airport management tries to provide other advantages over BWI, including free parking, shorter lines and smaller crowds.

"Depending on where you're going, there are more options and a better chance for lower fares (out of Baltimore)," Motz said. "But you have to factor in how much is parking, how much time you spend to get there."

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