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Commercial service to resume at Hagerstown Regional Airport

September 11, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- After going almost a year without passenger flights, Hagerstown Regional Airport is getting commercial air service again, Airport Director Carolyn Motz confirmed Wednesday.

Motz would not name the carrier or discuss the matter further. She said there is to be a formal announcement at the airport on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 10 a.m.

"I am very excited about the announcement," Motz said.

The airport has been without commercial service since October 2007, when Air Midwest ended its US Airways Express flights between Hagerstown and Pittsburgh.

Air Midwest stopped the flights when a federal subsidy it was receiving to provide the service expired.

Although a yearlong extension of the subsidy, called Essential Air Service (EAS), was approved in September 2007, a permanent EAS reauthorization has not been approved, said Susan Sullam, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin.

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Greg Larsen, business development manager for Hagerstown Regional Airport, said previously that a yearlong EAS extension would not be enough to make the program attractive to potential carriers, which would only have a few months to fly before funding expired.

The U.S. Department of Transportation sent out two inquiries earlier this year looking for airlines interested in flying to Hagerstown under the EAS extension and did not receive any responses.

The one-year EAS extension is scheduled to expire Sept. 30.

It is unclear whether Hagerstown's new carrier will be receiving a subsidy to fly here.

Hagerstown Regional Airport completed a $61.8-million runway extension in November 2007.

The 7,000-foot runway is the second-longest in the state.

After Air Midwest stopped flights to Hagerstown in September 2007, airport officials said the longer runway would make it easier for the airport to replace Air Midwest.

The new runway can accommodate regional jets that are larger than the planes Air Midwest and other carriers have flown to Hagerstown.

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