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Hart brought airport advances; challenges await its new leader

For 33 years, Tom Hart has been the face of the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville. That face will be changing when he retires at the end of the year.

As executive director, Hart has brought a steadiness to the leadership of the airport, overseeing its operations during times of great change and burgeoning competition.

Hart has spearheaded runway improvements at the airport and a significant forward step in the type of aircraft carrying passengers on daily flights to Philadelphia. He leaves behind a brand new terminal building that signifies a massive upgrade.

Filling Hart’s shoes will be Richard Howell, an Air Force veteran and licensed pilot who formerly served as director of the Columbus Airport in Columbus, Georgia.

The challenges for Howell would seem to be obvious.

To compete with other airports within a two-hour drive of Williamsport, the local airport needs to offer more flights, competitive rates and other destinations. A second carrier offering those flights would be helpful.

If this were an easy task, our guess is it already would have happened.

But that does not mean it can’t happen.

The airport has a massively improved runway to offer.

It has a first-class terminal building to offer.

These are not small attributes, and they may help meet a tough challenge.

To Hart’s credit, the airport is one of our region’s attributes.

It would be nice if, under Howell’s leadership, another step could be taken. That would entail air travel consumers from this area not needing to travel to other airports to meet their future flying needs.

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