NCWV Airport director: Need to regain public's trust

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - As the North Central West Virginia Airport waits for approval from the Department of Transportation on an agreement with SkyWest Airlines, director Rick Rock says he and his colleagues are tasked with restoring the public's trust in the airport.

"92 percent of people from our catchment area go to airports other than Clarksburg," Rock said.

Rock says that leakage to other airports is due in part to past trouble with airline carriers.

"We've had issues basically since 9/11, the lowest point being--we're actually dormant now," Rock explained, pointing to the lack of daily service at the airport currently.

The latest daily service carrier, Via Air, only lasted seven months. The airport's relationship with the airline was marred by equipment failures and scheduling issues. The airport terminated its contract in April.

"If I tried to go to an airport and had that problem, it may be the last time I call them," said George Torman, a Mannington resident.

Rock admits that problems with an airline reflect poorly on an airport.

"West Virginians, when they buy something, they want to make sure they get what they bought, and to this point, our daily carriers have not been able to provide that," Rock acknowledged.

But he hopes an airline like SkyWest, which operates with hundreds of aircraft, will attract some of the passengers they've lost to other airports.

If approved, flights will go to Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Washington Dulles (IAD).

The agreement with SkyWest was made possible through the Essential Air Service (EAS) program. Through the program, federal dollars subsidize airlines in small, rural markets.

Rock hopes the airport can grow out of the program soon. That conversation is in the video above.