Article and video news report by Hillary Thornton originally posted to the WYMT-TV web site http://www.wkyt.com/wymt/home/headlines/Appalachian-Air-takes-trial-flight-from-Pikeville-to-Nashville–245305681.html
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) Get ready for take off. In November, state and local leaders announced a new commercial air service coming to Eastern Kentucky. On Wednesday, many local leaders were on board for the trial flight. WYMT also flew along as they toured the facilities in Nashville.
More than a dozen people boarded the plane and took part in the hour long flight.
Project leaders have been busy preparing for the launch of Appalachian Air.
Luke Schmidt says, “We are daling with things like improving infrastructure at airport and dealing with creating TSA screening and security plan…we are in the middle of that right now.”
Officials say Wednesday’s trip is another step to getting the service up and running…touring the operating company, Cooperate Flight Management’s maintenance facilities.
CFM Chief Executive Allen Howell says, ” I think the community leaders have a real vision for what air service does for a community from the economic development stand point. The community understands this is an infrastructure issue, just like having a good highway system.”
Wednesday’s passengers, also getting a first hand look at Nashville International Airport, which officials say will be a huge gateway to Eastern Kentucky.
Passengers on Appalachian Air will fly in and out of Terminal C, which is in the main hub of the Nashville airport….with 70% of the airport’s business taking place in that terminal.
Once in Nashville, passengers will not have to go back through security, making for easy connections and quick travel.
Schmidt says, “The Nashville airport is growing and it has a lot of service but it is not Atlanta and it is not Chicago, which on any scale are huge, complex, and can be cumbersome.”
Officials hope to get Appalachian Air officially off the ground on April 14th, with ticket sales starting on February 24th.
That start date is a little later than officials had anticipated, due to some delays they could not control like the time it took to get proper certifications…which they say was slowed down due to the government shutdown.
Schmidt says, “Everyone involved in this project, whether they are in Pikeville or one of our providers, we are all comitted to doing this thing 100% – – first class all the way. We don’t want anything to slip through, so that’s why we did that.”
Officials say a new website should be operating soon and will feature a trip calculator to help folks compare prices from other airports, while taking into account driving time and expenses.