June 17, 2008

Reduced Fares Trumpet Runway Reopening

By Randy Griffith, Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

Jun. 17--Today's resumption of passenger flights at Johnstown marks the introduction of some special fares on United Express flights to Dulles International Airport in Washington.

"Fares have been established to welcome people back to the convenience of flying out of Johnstown," said Joe Williams, spokesman for Pinnacle Airlines Corp. and Colgan Air.

Pavement reconstruction at the intersection of John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport's only two runways closed the airport to all larger aircraft on May 5. The secondary runway opened Sunday, and commercial flights begin today. The main runway will reopen within a week.

United Airlines set introductory fares for about 30 popular destinations, but Williams wasn't able to supply a list of the cities.

"I should know that, but I haven't gotten any confirmation," he said from Pinnacle's Memphis, Tenn., headquarters.

Airport leaders stressed that all Johnstown fares have become more competitive through United's hub at Dulles. Last week, Colgan and Pinnacle received a new two-year contract under the federal Essential Air Service program.

"The message is: We are reopened, and we have a carrier committed for the next two years," said Raymond Porsch, chairman of the Johnstown Cambria County Airport Authority.

Free parking and fast screening at the Richland township airport illustrate more benefits of flying locally. Adding the cost of driving and parking at a major airport can make Johnstown a bargain, Porsch said.

Spot checking of several domestic and international destinations showed it cost an average of 12 percent more to fly from Johnstown through Dulles than from Dulles alone. Those departing Thursday for a week in Orlando, or on July 24 for a week in Chicago, would actually pay less from Johnstown than the lowest fare direct from Dulles.

Add the cost of driving 240 miles round-trip and seven days' parking at Dulles -- $190 -- and flying from Johnstown still averages 20 percent less than Dulles.


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