NCWV Airport ready for new service provider’s first flight

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 3:22 PM EST
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This article comes from our media partners at Connect Bridgeport.

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - The new service provider at North Central West Virginia Airport is ready to take its first flight on Thursday.

The final pieces of the deal were approved by the Benedum Airport Authority, the airport’s governing body, during a special meeting Tuesday.

Contour Airlines, based out of Smyrna, Tenn., will begin operation on Thursday, Dec. 1.

It replaces SkyWest, which did business as United Express for the last several years.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Authority approved a lease agreement for terminal space, an airline operating agreement, and a ground handling agreement. All items were given a thumbs up after the items were explained by NCWV Airport Director Rick Rock and Authority Legal Counsel Dean Ramsey.

“These are the final items,” said Rock.

Ramsey added that the agreements meet all the needs of the airport.

Contour’s first flight will be delayed until 8:45 a.m. Thursday to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport after a ribbon-cutting ceremony is held at 7 a.m. in the terminal building.

After that, flights will be offered twice a day with the exception of Tuesday and Saturday. The other five days will see flights leaving Bridgeport at 6:45 a.m. and a second flight at 1:45 p.m. The Tuesday and Saturday flights will depart at 6:45 a.m.

The airport entered into a three-year lease agreement with Contour on leasing of 983 square feet of space in the existing terminal. The airline will pay $4,500 per month for the space.

The arrival of Contour is not due to a lack of success with the previous daily flight service provider SkyWest, which did business as United Express.

United, which offered daily flight to Washington, D.C., and Chicago, ended 30 routes – almost all rural – due to a pilot shortage.

Like SkyWest, Contour is doing business as the result of the FAA’s Essential Air Service (EAS) program that provides daily flight subsidies to rural airports.

Contour was one of four to bid on NCWV Airport’s service after United announced its departure. It was one of only two to offer jet service and the subsidy by the FAA to Contour is $5.5 million.

In other words, the airport had to choose the best offer available as opposed to choosing an airline and any hub.

Contour will utilize an ERJ135 or ERJ140 jet that seats 30 individuals.

Rock said the flight time is roughly 40 minutes.

For those who are concerned about the connecting flights that were offered by United Express through United Airlines, Rock and others have pointed out they should not be too concerned.

Contour will be able to provide connections beyond Charlotte thanks to an interline agreement with American Airlines.

United will officially end its flights after Wednesday’s service.