Since the November upgrade in passenger service, customers flying from Raleigh County Memorial Airport to Washington-Dulles International Airport have made the trip aboard a 34-seat aircraft as opposed to a 19-seat plane.

On Feb. 18, services for customers flying out of the Beaver airport will again improve as a partnership with Colgan Air and United Airlines will offer more destinations to air travelers.

The partnership, which airport manager Tom Cochran and Colgan spokesman Del Shatley announced Thursday, will offer customers flying from the Raleigh County Airport to Dulles more destination choices as United’s hub in Washington offers its customers connector flights to 26 international cities and 84 cities across the United States.

“The presence of United is something we feel will be attractive for our current market,” Cochran said. “We’ll be able to offer more destinations so it’s really more of an opportunity to broaden our bases.”

Currently, Colgan is partnered with US Airways and, although Cochran and Shatley said it is a good partnership, they say working with United will be beneficial for airport customers as they will no longer have to travel to other airports in order to fly to specific destinations.

“US Airways (has) limited destinations, but now that United has partnered with Colgan, you have more,” Cochran said. “It will enhance the service here at a rural airport. People can stay here instead of going someplace else where they’ll have to pay tolls and bigger parking fees.”

Cochran and Shatley say the change will not cause any changes in airport service and because United Airlines and US Airways are both members of Star Alliance and share a number of flights out of Washington Dulles, airport customers can continue with their current frequent flyer program.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chair of the Aviation Subcommittee of Senate Commerce, praised the partnership.

“With today’s announcement of direct service to Dulles, new and more reliable domestic and international travel options to our state are opening up,” Rockefeller was quoted as saying in a press release. “I commend Colgan and United for taking this step so that West Virginia businesses and families will have better air service options.”

Shatley said a schedule of flights should be available by this weekend at www.united.com.

— E-mail:

mjames@register-herald.com

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