CHARLESTON, W.Va. — American Airlines starts flying regional jets out of Charleston’s Yeager Airport to Charlotte, N.C., Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Pa. Friday and the president and CEO of National Travel is hoping those flights continue beyond the summer.

“It is a real game changer for the business area,” CEO Ted Lawson told MetroNews on Thursday.

In April, American first announced the planned shift from Dash 8 turboprop aircraft with 37 seats to regional jets with 50 seats for flights running from June 2 to Aug. 21, adding space for about 3,600 additional passengers.

Jets, Lawson said, offer better experiences to travelers. “The jets fly at a higher altitude and, therefore, it’s a much smoother ride and it’s a faster ride,” he said.

The American non-stop flights from Yeager Airport (CRW) that will see the jets fly to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

Washington, especially, is an important destination for business travelers.

“In the deep, dark past, there were flights by Piedmont Airlines in the 1980s who used to fly a 737 on that route and used to run it at almost full capacity all the time,” Lawson said. “So we know the business is there.”

National Travel is offering a $25 Uber credit to business travelers who book day trips to D.C.

Philadelphia is a busy hub for international flights, Lawson noted. “The jet has more baggage capacity and, for international flights, it is a great way of connecting to virtually all of Europe out of Philadelphia.”

Lawson’s wants to see the jet service continue into the fall and 2018.

“This is 2017, this is not 1930 and, while the prop planes are safe, they’re just not competitive in today’s world of jet travel.”

National Travel, which has been in the travel management business in West Virginia for 40 years, has offices in both Charleston and Morgantown.

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