Before dawn on Wednesday, December 5th, a Contour Airlines jet stood waiting on the tarmac outside the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport. After de-icing the plane, a dozen passengers and members of local media boarded for the Airline’s inaugural flight to Charlotte, North Carolina.
This was the first scheduled flight by Contour Airlines, the new Essential Air Service provider for both the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport and the Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beckley, WV. The flight also marked the start of a new relationship, one that airport officials hope will help restore trust and increase passenger numbers at the airport.
“Reliable airline service is key to maintaining a good climate for business, higher education, and economic growth for any community,” said Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Manager, Glen Kelly. “Contour’s service is the most reliable we have seen, ranging from 98.7 to 100% completion rates. The fact that Contour flies jets with business class seating throughout is an added advantage to bringing more customers to our airport.”
The flight departed around 8:40 a.m. Wednesday morning and arrived in Charlotte around 10:40 a.m., after a brief stop in Beckley to pick up additional passengers at the Raleigh County Memorial Airport.
One passenger remarked that he has flown back and forth from Parkersburg to Charlotte over 30 times in the past year. “I have an office in Belpre, as well as outside of Charlotte,” he said. “The Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport staff is always so nice and accommodating. If I’m running late, they will call me to see if I will be flying that day.”
“Airports are multipliers for our local economy,” said Richardson. “For every dollar spent on a flight, $4-$5 is spent in the local community.”
Several members of the Wood County Airport Authority joined members of the media and business passengers for Wednesday’s inaugural flight. Bill Richardson, President of the Wood County Airport Authority, said it’s the mission of the Airport Authority to promote the airport and that they want to see Contour Airlines succeed. “Airports are multipliers for our local economy,” said Richardson. “For every dollar spent on a flight, $4-$5 is spent in the local community.”
Flights between Parkersburg and Charlotte will be available twice daily, with the exception of Wednesdays and Saturdays, where only one round trip will be available, with ticket prices ranging from $39 to $99 per round trip. The Saturday flight will continue on to Tampa, FL. From Charlotte, passengers can easily connect to cities around the world. With over 150 flights available, the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is a major domestic hub.
Recently renovated, Charlotte’s airport is modern and easy to navigate. It took less than fifteen minutes to walk from the farthest gate (Gate A29) to ground transportation. From there, downtown Charlotte is a fifteen minute bus ride away, for a nominal fee of $2.25.
The Queen City of Charlotte is a Southern jewel, named one of the top ten best craft beer towns in America, the number one most up and coming city in America, and one of ten US cities where everyone wants to live right now. The city boasts blue skies year round, proud to have more than 212 sunny days each year. Food trucks and museums are both plentiful downtown, sprinkled among artfully planned green spaces and towering skyscrapers.
Downtown Charlotte is walkable and vibrant, with well-marked signage throughout. Without renting a car, one could easily navigate the city through use of public transit. While passengers who booked a same-day round trip flight on Wednesday had only four and a half hours between landing and boarding for the return flight, that was enough time to head downtown for lunch, explore the city center, and make it back through security with ample time to spare.
Whether travelers choose to fly to Charlotte for a short getaway or are looking for a convenient way to connect to flights across the country, Contour Airlines’ new service at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport is a welcomed addition.
We have customers in our community that opt to fly for work and play and they will support a local airport when it has “reliable” service.
“For people that have flown out of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport, the common theme is how convenient it is to drive a few miles from home to the front door of the airport, park for free and be on your plane without a long line or wait,” said Jill Parsons, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley. “This truly exemplifies the need for air service in smaller communities – we have customers in our community that opt to fly for work and play and they will support a local airport when it has “reliable” service.”
Unfortunately, unreliable service is not convenient, Parsons continued, “and sadly that happened far too often over the last two years,” referring to the airport’s previous Essential Air Service provider, Via. “The first time your flight is cancelled, either upon departure or upon return, it’s likely a deal breaker.” In her role with the Chamber of Commerce, Parsons said she heard this story more times than she wished to admit. “We know we have a lot of ground to make up to overcome the last airline carrier that served the MOV Regional Airport.”
Reliability isn’t just a word they use in their marketing materials; besides safety, it’s the most important thing they have control of in delivering this service to its customers.
Parsons and Kelly are both optimistic about Contour Airlines, whose commercial flight business has targeted rehabilitating markets in the past. “Reliability is a very important word in air travel. And as we learned during the process of selecting a new airline carrier for the MOV Regional Airport, it’s an important word for Contour Airlines,” Parsons said. “They were quick to point out that ‘reliability’ isn’t just a word they use in their marketing materials; besides safety, it’s the most important thing they have control of in delivering this service to its customers. I feel strongly that we have found the right partner in Contour Airlines to make that happen.”
If Wednesday’s inaugural flight was any indicator of Contour’s future in the MOV, the Airline’s future is bright.