The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 19, 2013

Good news and bad news for city airport

Randy Griffith
rgriffith@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — There was good news and there was bad news for local travelers at Tuesday’s meeting of Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority.

A spring casino package charter illustrates new travel opportunities that leaders say will help solidify the local airport’s future.

But leaders also learned a prospective restaurant operator has backed out of discussions to reopen the terminal’s eatery.

Preferred Casino Tours LLC of Aliquippa has scheduled a casino junket package to Atlantic City, N.J., departing April 19 and returning April 21 at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, airport manager RaNell Fenchak said Tuesday.  

“I think that is good news,” authority Chairman James Loncella said.

Passenger counts on the regular commercial flights to Dulles International Airport outside Washington have not reached the 10,000 mark in recent years, reducing the airport’s Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program grant from $1 million to $150,000. Leaders have been exploring new options to increase ridership.

Authority Vice Chairman William Polacek said Pinnacle Airlines executive Mickey Bowman agreed to look into package flights from Johnstown to Orlando, Fla. The package flights would be through Pinnacle’s regular Johnstown United Express commuter flights, connecting with United Air flights at Dulles.

The idea is to sell the package – including hotel, meals, ground transportation and admission to major attractions – at a price that makes it affordable for families to fly from Johnstown, Polacek said.

The restaurant setback came as a disappointment, Fenchak said.

Cafe Fratelli owner Joe Crimone had been in lease negotiations for the airport restaurant. Those negotiations ended recently, Fenchak said.  “I talked to Joe Crimone,” she told authority members. “Because of things going on at the (Somerset) business he’s in now, he’s not able to move into the (airport) restaurant at this time.

“He’s not saying it is a dead deal, but for now we are looking for somebody else.”

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