A proposal by the Pittsburgh International Airport to restore air service to small Pennsylvania airports may result in a restoration of service to the Williamsport Regional Airport.
The proposal calls for the use of turboprop aircraft with 50 seats or less, which are the types of aircraft used at the Williamsport airport.
The aircraft are much more economical to operate than small jets because they use less fuel and are ideal for short flights, according to the Associated Press.
Aircraft used at the Williamsport Regional Airport are 37- and 50-seat D-8 turboprops, according to Thomas Hart, airport executive director.
Hart said it is too early to tell whether the local airport will end up with restored service to Pittsburgh.
US Airways, the airport's lone commercial carrier, ended service between the two cities in late 2004 as part of a larger route-cutting measure designed to reduce costs. Since then, the airport's only connection has been to Philadelphia.
Hart said the Pittsburgh airport's proposal involves the selection of a consultant who will make recommendations as to which cities should have service restored and which airlines could provide that service.
"It's a positive thing, not only for the airport but aviation as a whole for Pennsylvania," said Hart. "There are a lot of smaller cities in Pennsylvania with commercial service that don't have (a connection) to Pittsburgh at the moment."
The Williamsport Regional Airport Authority and Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce have been seeking a carrier that can provide a western connection to Williamsport.
"We've met with a couple (regional) airlines and we are scheduled in March to meet with some of the larger airlines," Hart said.
According to airport authority Chairman Mark Murawski, the Pittsburgh connection is not as appealing as it was several years ago. When US Airways ended flights to Williamsport in 2004, it also ended flights to about 20 other cities, he said.
More recently, Southwest Airlines reduced flights from Pittsburgh, as well.
"Pittsburgh is not as attractive to us because connections have been greatly reduced (there) over the last few years," Murawski said.
Murawski said the airport rather would seek a carrier and city that would provide a wider range of connection options to travelers flying in and out of the area.
He said a Pittsburgh connection could, however, be useful for people who want to travel to Pittsburgh as a final destination, he added.
Hart said having multiple western connections to the airport, especially with the increase in commercial passengers as a result of the gas industry, is "very doable." He added, however, that discussions involving multiple connections is "putting the cart before the horse."
"Passenger counts are up and will continue to increase," he said. "It's not unlikely you could have multiple western connections."