MARTINSBURG - The company that started providing passenger service Wednesday at the Altoona-Blair County Airport frustrated local travelers with delayed flights.
Vice President Mickey Bowman said the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Silver Airways remains committed to an on-time flight schedule.
Wednesday's delays resulted from the aircraft having to undergo a mechanical review prompted by a storm, then unexpected maintenance after striking a bird while flying into the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Bowman said.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Tina Doheny works the Silver Airways counter Wednesday at the Altoona-Blair County Airport. A storm and a bird strike delayed flights from the carrier.
"It's been a bewitching kind of day," Bowman said.
"We like this airport, but we don't like the delays," John Lavoie Sr. of Hollidaysburg said while waiting for the afternoon flight at the Martinsburg airport. His oldest son, John Lavoie Jr., was ready to return to St. Louis and expected to board the 1:59 p.m. flight, estimated to be about 90 minutes late.
"Thunderstorms delayed his travel last week," the father said. "He had to stay overnight in Dallas."
Gail Boyles of Altoona and her daughter, Samantha Brumbaugh of South Dakota, decided to go to the airport's gift shop after learning of the delayed afternoon flight.
A short time later, the women were waiting in the terminal with the Lavoies and a family of four waiting on the flight that would take them to the Washington-Dulles International Airport. From there, the family intended to pick up a connecting flight that would eventually lead to San Diego.
Boyles, a former Martinsburg resident, said she worked at the Altoona-Blair County Airport restaurant while she was a high school student in 1963-64.
"This place was booming then," Boyles said. "There were a lot of people around, and planes were landing all the time."
Airport officials hope Silver Airways will make an effort to build ridership and lure passengers driving to other airports. The company has already introduced lower fares and a schedule change for October that will bring back the early-departure and late-night-arrival flights.
The U.S. Department of Transportation selected Silver Airways in April to serve the Blair and Cambria County airports, at $3.99 million under the Essential Air Service Program which subsidies passenger flights at about 150 small community and rural airports.
Silver succeeds Colgan Air, which began serving the airport in December 2002 and was purchased by Pinnacle Airlines. Pinnacle filed for bankruptcy in April.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.