Blair Airport launches jet service | News, Sports, Jobs

Workers prepare a Contour Airlines plane for boarding ahead of its maiden flight Tuesday at Altoona-Blair County Airport. Mirror photo by Rachel Foor

MARTINSBURG — Altoona-Blair County Airport has entered the jet era.

“This will be the first time in the airport’s 73-year history of passenger service that we will offer jet service,” Airport manager Tracy Plessinger said Tuesday.

The change comes with Contour Airlines assuming daily passenger service under the federal Alternate Essential Air Service program. Contour provides jet service to Philadelphia through an interline agreement with American Airlines, Plessinger said.

The service includes 12 return flights to Philadelphia per week, according to a press release.

“As an interline partner of American Airlines, Contour offers travelers the ability to seamlessly purchase tickets from their home airport through a connecting hub to global destinations,” a press release read.

Altoona-Blair County Airport workers load baggage onto the inaugural flight of Contour Airlines’ jet service Tuesday to Martinsburg. Mirror photo by Rachel Foor

The jet service will be different from the airport’s previous offering of propeller plane service. The jets are bigger, faster and more comfortable, Plessinger said.

“They fly directly to Philadelphia, rather than someone having to fly to Pittsburgh and then catch another connection or buy another ticket,” he said.

Plessinger believes this new service will benefit not only Blair County, but central Pennsylvania as well, as it provides more convenient and reliable access for tourists or locals to travel.

Additionally, while propeller planes typically had around eight or nine seats, jets have 30, with what Contour CEO Matt Chaifetz calls “first class legroom.”

They will also have a bathroom, a flight attendant, drinks and snacks, he said.

In his experience, Chaifetz said that when an airport changes from an eight- or nine-seat propeller plane to a jet plane, it “generally shows an increase in traffic.”

The airport also hosted Avis, a national brand car rental company, offering local and one-way rentals to airport passengers and community residents.

“We were in discussions with the airport authority, and Tracy said ‘hey, you know what, now is the perfect time, we’re bringing jet service'” Tom Troxell, Avis Territory Manager, said. “We were discussing ways to achieve this. We are currently in a market where cars are hard to buy – manufacturing and labor are hard to come by.

To celebrate these new additions, Contour is offering an introductory rate of $49 per ride when purchased before October 31.

Mirror Staff Writer Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.

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