In 2010, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC was retained by a trio of clients (the City of Pikeville; the Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board; and, the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce) for the purpose of developing commercial air service at the Pikeville – Pike County Regional Airport (PBX).
PBX is a modern airport which sits on top of a mountain on land which has been reclaimed from an old coal mine. PBX has a 5,300 foot long runway with a full Instrument Landing System (ILS). PBX will serve a large portion of the Central Appalachian coalfield, with a catchment area population of 345,000 people in nine Kentucky counties, three Virginia counties and one county in West Virginia.
Luke Schmidt has worked closely with the principals from each of these organizations in moving this project forward, in what has been a true team effort, with significant milestones having been achieved to date, including:
- Developed new market profile
- Scheduled/conducted meetings with several potential airlines
- Facilitated the award of a $750,000 USODT Small Community Air Service Development grant to support the new service
- Facilitated the award of a $1,000,000 Kentucky multi-county coal severance tax grant to support the new service
- Secured resolutions of support for the Kentucky coal severance tax grant from Floyd County (KY) Fiscal Court and Pike County Fiscal Court
- Called on numerous legislators from Eastern Kentucky, the governor’s chief of staff and the secretary of the cabinet for economic development to garner support for the Kentucky coal severance tax grant
Project Progress to Date
Significant progress has been made on this project, including the successful recruitment of new commercial air service to PBX. Accomplishments include:
Secured a commitment for service (public charter flights) from Corporate Flight Management (Smyrna, TN) and Public Charters, Inc. (Scranton, PA)
- CFM will operate as the Direct Air Carrier and will be responsible for all flying aspects of the project (aircraft, flight crews, etc.)
- PC will operate as the Indirect Air Carrier and will be responsible for all non-flying aspects of the project (ticket sales, aircraft ground handling, etc.)
Facilitated the development and execution of an Air Service Agreement (between the City of Pikeville and PC) and an Airport Use Agreement (between the Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board and PC) to support the new commercial air service
- The new service will be operated by Corporate Flight Management dba Appalachian Air
- The new service will connect PBX passengers to the Nashville International Airport (BNA) and to the nine airlines which currently serve BNA with 50 nonstop markets, including low-fare carrier Southwest Airlines, which has a major presence at BNA
- The daily service will be operated with state of the art British Aerospace BAE Jetstream J32 aircraft
- The Jetstream J32 is a pressurized, 19-passenger aircraft with a stand-up cabin, two pilots and which cruises at 265 MPH up to 25,000 feet
- The new service was formally announced during a ceremony at PBX airport on November 6, 2013, which was attended by Governor Steve Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers, Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn, State Senator Ray Jones, State Representative Leslie Combs and over 300 community leaders
- In a statement, Governor Beshear said, “Passenger air service will open new opportunities for much of Eastern Kentucky. What has historically been one of the more difficult regions of the Commonwealth to reach will now be less than an hour and a half flying time from connecting to the global air system in Nashville.”
- In a statement, Congressman Rogers stated, “As we face a new era in Eastern Kentucky and work to expand our industrial portfolio, this commercial air service launches us into the competitive market. With new economic challenges ahead, we have to access greater opportunities, embrace new technology and create innovative strategies to shape our future, and this air service will provide unprecedented access to this important energy producing region.”
This ongoing project has the potential to substantially impact future economic development efforts in Eastern Kentucky, Southwestern West Virginia, and Southwestern Virginia and will assist in creating new jobs.