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Lawmaker speaks to local air service issue

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township said this week he has heard nothing from American Airlines since local leaders took part in a webinar to stress the importance of having in place commercial air service locally.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania hearing on Feb. 4 hosted by Yaw served as a clear call for the airline to rethink its decision to end flights to and from the Williamsport Regional Airport.

“I have not heard from American Airlines,” Yaw said. “I talked to airline officials a day or two before the hearing. It was clear from talking to those officials that they didn’t understand the facts in Lycoming County.”

American Airlines serves Williamsport Regional Airport with single daily flights to and from Philadelphia. However, those flights will end in March, leaving the airport with no commercial air service.

Local business and government officials who spoke during the webinar noted the importance of having commercial flights, particularly from an economic standpoint.

The capital improvements made at the airport, including the recent construction of a new terminal building, were also noted.

Yaw said he’s unsure if American Airlines officials have a grasp of the entire sequence of events that have occurred over the past year with local the airport.

It was clear, he said, that many people remain upset with American for deciding to cancel the Charlotte, North Carolina, flight service shortly after launching it in August.

The goal of the webinar, Yaw said, was to present the facts.

“We got publicity out of it,” he said. “I’m not sure if American Airlines wants that kind of publicity.”

As far as commercial air service remaining in place at the airport, Yaw said, “I’m not holding my breath.”

However, he did not dismiss the possibility of holding another webinar to further consider the state of air service.

Meanwhile, airport officials are continuing exploring options for future commercial flights.

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