Martinsburg airport sees uptick in passengers

Southern Airways works to attract additional flyers

MARTINSBURG — The Altoona-Blair County Airport ended the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30 with 7,318 passengers, the highest amount since 2015 for its current carrier, Southern Airways, which initially started serving the airport in late 2014.

The number was a slight improvement over the 7,184 reported for fiscal year 2018 and the 7,236 reported for fiscal year 2017.

Fiscal year 2019 as a whole proved to be the best year in Southern’s tenure, but it’s time for some different tactics, Southern’s Chief Commercial Officer Mark Cestari recently told the Altoona-Blair County Airport Authority.

He came to that conclusion after a review of recent monthly passenger numbers that were down from last year’s numbers. For instance, the September report showed the airport with 561 passengers, down from the just over 800 reported in September 2018.

Cestari said he met recently with Altoona-Blair County Airport Manager Tracy Plessinger to work on efforts aimed at attracting more business flyers. Those plans, he said, include the hiring of a marketing agent to promote use of the airport, perhaps through the sale of bulk discount tickets.

“I don’t think it’s about strategy,” Cestari said about the proposed effort. “I think it’s about execution.”

Efforts are also moving forward to hire a local company to initiate a social media campaign, building upon the social media campaign by the PIT Connector program which encourages people to fly to Pittsburgh from their regional airports.

The PIT Connector program is restructuring its advertising effort so Southern and the local airports will have more control, Plessinger told the airport authority.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

The Altoona-Blair County Airport’s

current flight schedule, through

Dec. 31, is as follows:

Departures to Pittsburgh International Airport:

Monday through Friday: 5:25 a.m., 11:55 a.m., 2:55 p.m.

Saturdays: 8:45 a.m., 4:05 p.m.

Sundays: 10 a.m., 4 p.m.

Departures to Baltimore-Washington International Airport

Monday through Friday: 9:15 a.m.

Saturday: 11:10 a.m.

Sunday: 1:20 p.m.