Jet service first big dividend from airport advances

Years of runway renovations and an ongoing terminal construction project at the Williamsport Regional Airport are finally starting to pay off.

In a big way.

Today.

This is the day the airport officially moves into the jet age.

At 12:23 p.m., Embraer 145 regional jets with a capacity for 50 passengers will arrive at the airport. The jet will depart at 1 p.m., officially replacing the airport’s 34-seat Dash 8s.

The local airport is late to this party. But better late than never.

The plain fact is that this improvement and others at the airport are necessary if the facility and local air service are to compete successfully with airports of similar size within 100 miles of here.

The jets obviously will carry more people, with 16 more seats. They also are faster and more modern, which means more comfortable.

An underrated aspect is that the jets can fly at a higher altitude, which should drastically reduce the number of times a flight is delayed or postponed by weather conditions.

The next step is for the airport to possibly add a second carrier beyond American Airlines and definitely add destinations beyond just Philadelphia. Competition and customer choice are the needed assets that would make the local facility more competitive.

Too many air passengers travel to State College, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Allentown, Corning, N.Y., and Elmira, N.Y., for flights out of the region. Hopefully, improvements in air service and a new airport terminal will change that in the future.

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