ANNAPOLIS – Boston-Maine Airways remains scheduled to start daily flights from Cumberland Regional Airport to Baltimore Washington International Airport on Nov. 1, despite instability in the airline industry nationwide.
“We ought to be showing people that America’s aviation business is up and running,” said John Nadolny, senior vice president of Boston-Maine.
The decision comes at a time when Maryland general aviation airports within 18 nautical miles of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport remain closed, with losses up to $5,000 a day. And it comes as one of BWI’s major carriers, US Airways, announced it was cutting 60 percent of jet service from the airport.
But it’s the right time for Boston-Maine, Nadolny said.
“We think it’s good timing,” he said. “We still think it’s going to prove pretty popular,” he said.
Three flights will leave daily from Cumberland Regional Airport, stop at the Hagerstown Regional Airport and then land at BWI. Each plane will carry 19 passengers. Hagerstown has not had flights go to BWI since 1997.
The flights are a result of a two-year, $2.25 million contract approved by the Board of Public Works in June.
The airline industry nationwide has suffered huge losses since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Airlines and aircraft makers have laid off tens of thousands of workers, prompting Congress to approve a $15 billion industry bailout.
Current daily flights from Hagerstown to Pittsburgh are running smoothly, said Hagerstown airport manager Carolyn Motz, adding that passenger volume is high since Sept. 11.
That doesn’t mean the new venture is without risk. Passengers may still be fearful about flying even short distances, Nadolny said. Even so, the company will continue to do three flights a day regardless of the number of people on each flight.
“We believe that the market will support the airline service,” said House Speaker Casper Taylor, D-Allegany, who pushed heavily for state to subsidize the service.
“We see no deterioration to our local economy,” he said, pointing out that tourism in Western Maryland, which is typically reached by car, is fairing well.
The only deterrent to keep people from flying is if they are still worried about their safety, said Cumberland airport manager John Jennings.
Boston-Maine Airways has taken appropriate security precautions to ensure passenger safety, Nadolny said. In fact, the company banned all carry-on bags a week before the Federal Aviation Administration put limits on them. – 30 – CNS-10-10-01