Morgantown Municipal Airport in danger of losing federal subsidy

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (WDTV)-- For the second year in a row, the Morgantown Municipal Airport is fighting for its federal subsidy for Essential Air Service.

City Manager, Paul Brake says the U.S. Department of Transportation looks at arrival and departure numbers and airlines are required to meet it.

"It's not a fair comparison to look at three years ago when there was a different type of airplane that was used. It had a larger capacity, but there were far fewer flights, so it was just not as convenient for passengers."

Brake says before they added Southern Airways, each aircraft accommodated 29 people with two flights daily. Southern's planes seat 9 passengers and has 6 flights going out daily.

This is why he says he's optimistic that the numbers will continue to grow.

"As the airline has an affiliation with not only American Airlines, but also this European airline, Condor, it has increased the number of passengers," said Brake.

Brake says the subsidy accounts for up to $3 million. Without it, it's possible passengers could see a rise in ticket costs.

"It would add on anywhere from $200-$230 each direction onto the cost of the ticket. That may not make it economically feasible for individuals to travel."

As a regional asset to many, Brake, Southern Airways and local delegates are working on a letter urging the USDOT to continue the subsidy.

"We have to show that we've done our due diligence and ultimately the authority is left up to the federal government to approve that subsidy," said Brake.

The deadline to submit the letter is April 15. Brake says the subsidy won't be terminated until the letter is reviewed.