The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 5, 2012

People movers’ high expectations

Flight service, transit authority making news

The Tribune-Democrat

— Mickey Bowman gets it, and that’s good news for fliers using John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.

“It’s an ‘If we build it they will come’ situation,” Bowman said last week. The vice president for essential air service for Silver Airlines said the new operator in town will have to prove itself to win back local travelers.

He’s right on the money.

“We have to give them the one thing they were lacking: Dependable service. That’s what we are focused on right now,” Bowman said.

The Silver executive isn’t saying something local airport officials haven’t heard many times before. It’s something area fliers have been ranting on for many years.

They want dependable service, yes, but also convenient airline transfer options – something they have been getting with service into Washington’s Dulles International Airport – and equitable fares, at least ones in the ballpark with what they can find at the Pittsburgh airport.

Bowman was in Johnstown to meet with business and government leaders during Silver’s inaugural reception. From all indications, it was a positive get-together.

Airport authority Chairman James Loncella said he was encouraged by Bowman’s response to authority suggestions.

“We are trying to build more enplanements,” Loncella told our Randy Griffith. “The one thing I heard today was he is willing to work with United to create packages to fly to Orlando.”

Area residents are aware of what additional flying opportunities have done for Latrobe’s Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, which now offers regular flights to two Florida cities and where at least two parking lot expansions have taken place.

We hope area fliers are as encouraged as we are about plans to expand local flight opportunities while focusing on more dependable service.

The fact is, however, if Silver Airlines “builds it,” locals must use it or the service will falter.

It’s Business 101.


*   *   *

Meanwhile, site preparation work is expected to begin in the next few weeks for CamTran’s new headquarters and garage in the Woodvale section of the city.

“We are very excited about going to that neighborhood,” Executive Director Rose Lucey-Noll told Griffith following last week’s meeting of the Cambria County Transit Authority.

CamTran plans to build a $20 million, state-of-the-art facility in the former FreightCar America lot along Maple Avenue.

It will be a tremendous shot in the arm for the Woodvale neighborhood and for the area in general as it creates construction jobs.

At the same time, we urge the transit authority to continue efforts to find buyers for what will become vacant CamTran garages in the Moxham section.

Buildings left unoccupied usually fall into disrepair rather quickly.


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