By Sarah Mansheim
The Greenbrier Valley Airport has given Silver Airways the boot.
On Monday, Airport Director Stephen Snyder told members of the press in an email that while Silver Airways submitted a bid to continue service to the airport located just north of Lewisburg, the proposal has already been rejected “due mainly to their inability to provide adequate service, act upon our concerns, or to work as a legitimate service partner,” said Snyder.
With Silver on the way out, the airport opened up the Essential Air Service bidding process to other airlines. Bids for 2016-2018 came from ADI Aerodynamics Inc., a Kennesaw, GA, company, which would offer service to the Atlanta, GA, hub; Via Air, a Maitland, FL, company, which would offer service to the Charlotte, NC, hub; Boutique Air, out of San Francisco, CA, offering flights to Atlanta and Pittsburgh, PA; Southern Airways from Memphis, TN, offering air service to Pittsburgh and/or Baltimore, MD; and Corporate Flight Management, a Nashville, TN, company offering service to Washington, DC.
Snyder said that some of these charter-type airlines operate outside of the Essential Air Service model, but still abide by the same safety and customer service standards as their EAS counterparts.” No matter the certificate type, these airlines undergo rigorous certification procedures and have exemplary records for safety, completion rate, customer satisfaction and on-time performance … we will have greater latitude with utilization and scheduling of aircraft, including special event charters.”
However, those charter companies have a caveat: luggage. Some of the airlines “do not hold ticket and bag (T&B) agreements with other airlines, meaning that you may not check your bag all the way through to destination unless you are staying with the same airline,” Snyder said.
Baggage options are being weighed along with many other items, including consumer cost. Snyder is looking to make the Greenbrier Valley Airport a more affordable option for locals who want to fly in and out of Lewisburg. “We are asking all airlines to provide scenarios that include seat cost for the first half of the aircraft to book at fares of $39-$49 each way, with no maximum one way fare to exceed $99,” Snyder said.
He also wants to make booking a flight more convenient. “There is potential that we will employ new web technology to allow flights to be reserved directly from the GVAirport.com web site or with our branded carrier. With this will be the potential to book all legs at one site by utilizing the same type of reservation platforms used by Kayak or Expedia,” he said.
The public comment period for bids is now open, and community members are invited to review the airlines’ bids and offer their opinion on which carrier may best suit the airport. Ultimately, the Greenbrier County Airport Authority, the airport’s governing board, will decide which airline will fly in and out of Lewisburg.
To view the proposals, visit www.regulations.gov and type docket number DOT-OST-2003-15553 into the search bar. Sorting by date will bring the newest proposals to the top of the screen. Snyder said the proposal information will also be located on the airport’s Facebook page soon.