Region is ready for increased air travel out of local airport

Air travel can be a valuable economic engine for an area.

The Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville serves that purpose, and officials are hoping to improve its presence in the future.

The Williamsport Regional Airport Authority board recently approved its long-range plan that runs through 2017 and includes construction of a new $13.6 million airport terminal building.

It also includes several improvements to runways and lighting.

The perfect partner to those physical improvements would be additional flight opportunities for consumers.

Airport officials have been seeking a second carrier for flights to and from the airport in Montoursville for some time. For several years, the only flight opportunity has been US Airways service to and from Philadelphia several times daily.

With the advent of the gas drilling activity in the region, more flight opportunities to the south and west clearly would make sense.

So far, efforts have not yielded an additional carrier.

A second possibility for some more air traffic locally developed recently when the merger of American Airlines and US Airways was announced.

Thomas J. Hart, authority executive director, said the merger may create an opportunity to increase the current US Airways schedule at the airport.

Expanded air service is long overdue out of the airport in Montoursville.

The local airport’s central location gives it the same opportunity to be a hub of economic traffic just as the region’s location makes it a highway hub.

The long-term presence of the natural gas drilling industry and the increasing demand for flight options from everyday consumers would seem to make an increased US Airways schedule and a second carrier out of the local airport a reasonable goal for the next year or two.