HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Tri-State Airport is planning to establish new air service to Washington, D.C and Chicago after receiving $750,000 in funding from the federal government.
U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) announced the funding this week from the U.S. Department of Transportation. It will be used to recruit, initiate and support a new route between Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).
“It would be Chicago to Huntington to Dulles and then back,” explained Brent Brown, director of the Huntington Tri-State Airport.
Brown said, being a small regional airport, they have very limited service with only one route to Charlotte, NC.
“It’s difficult for people who are trying to West because they have to go East and typically they have a long layover,” he said.
The new air service is rare, which is why Brown said they’re doing all they can to attract interested airlines. SkyWest, operated by United Airlines, has sent a letter of support to the airport. Brown said they would like to see American Airlines pick up the route since they already operate out of Huntington.
“They could have two hub offerings with Chicago and Charlotte,” Brown said.
Brown said he’s received a number of phone calls from flyers about when the new service would start. He told MetroNews airport officials still have to discuss their options with airlines before they can start selling tickets.
“There’s a process that we have to go through to attract these airlines and that’s what this money is used for, so it doesn’t mean that we’re going to start service any time soon. It just gives us leverage when we go talk to them,” he said.
Senator Manchin and Capito released the following statements regarding the funding:
“West Virginia’s airports serve as hubs for economic development and open the door for tourists to visit our beautiful state. I am pleased DOT is investing in the Huntington Tri-State Airport for new air services to DC and Chicago,” said Senator Manchin. “I look forward to the economic growth and tourism these new services will bring to the region and the entire state. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a pilot myself, I will continue to advocate for funding to support West Virginia airports and their expansion efforts.”
“The Tri-State Airport is vital infrastructure for Huntington and the entire state of West Virginia,” Senator Capito said. “As someone who frequently travels in and out of our airports, I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand what an important role airports like Tri-State play in the lives of so many others. Airports help our businesses move products from place to place, growing their companies and our economies. Establishing regular service from the Tri-State Airport to Washington, D.C area and Chicago will provide more flight options for travelers, while also expanding opportunities for economic development within the entire region. This is an exciting announcement for Cabell County, and I look forward to the impact it will have in West Virginia.”