The John Murtha Johnstown Cambria County Airport is once again looking for a new commercial airliner.
It comes as its current carrier is withdrawing from all its contracts to provided government subsidized flights to small airports across the country.
The Johnstown Cambria County Airport Authority says they’ve had more people come through than at any point in the past 15 years.
But as Crispin Havener reports Skywest airlines says industry realities are forcing them to pull out.
“It was an excellent service.”
But now, there’s turbulence ahead for the airport. The airport authority confirming Wednesday that after two years, Skywest Airlines is terminating all their Federal Essential air service contracts early,
Including their United Airline branded flights from Johnstown to Washington Dulles and Chicago O’ Hare.
“We’re absolutely continuing to grow.”
The Airport Authority’s Chairman Rick McQuaide tells me that the past two years with Skywest and their 50 passenger commuter jets, was a godsend for the airport after years of working with airlines using single engine planes with less than 10 seats. Even with the pandemic, the airport last year saw its best passenger numbers since 2007.
“Obviously that huge capacity made a huge difference for us. The connection opportunities originating in Johnstown were 100 times better than the previous operator had. We fully expected that air service to double that number yet.”
But Skywest is ending service at 29 airports where it has contracts for EAS subsidies, citing an ongoing pilot staffing imbalance across the industry however, Skywest will continue to provide service through at least June and beyond if neccesairy, until a new carrier is in place.
The authority will now work with the U.S. Transportation Department, which handles the EAS contracts, to try and find a new provider looking to provide service in Johnstown.
“We’ve already had meetings with multiple airlines. We’re looking for another jet service operator and over the next 90 days, we plan to take proposals, select a carrier, and get them implemented. Will it be a jet service? Obviously, that’s our first priority. It may or may not be, it’s yet to be seen but we hope so.”
While it may be a bumpy ride in the week’s ahead, McQuaid is optimistic that given their recent success, the sky’s the limit for Johnstown’s future.
“Be patient with us as we sort through this mess and select a new carrier.”
The Airport Authority says that if you do have an upcoming booking at the Johnstown Airport, to check ahead with United Airlines or SkyWest Airlines to make sure your flight is still on.