EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 2013
Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board, City of Pikeville Sign Agreements to Facilitate New Air Service
Agreements are the First of Several Steps to Bring Passenger Air Service to the Central Appalachian Region
Pikeville, Kentucky (August 31, 2013) – The group leading the development of commercial air service in Eastern Kentucky today announced that the Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board and the City of Pikeville have each signed agreements with Public Charters, Inc. (PC) of Avoca, Pennsylvania. PC will facilitate the development of new air service at the Pikeville – Pike County Regional Airport (PBX), which will be operated under contract by Corporate Flight Management (CFM) of Smyrna, Tennessee. The first agreement outlines various airport services, such as fueling, deicing, aircraft ground handling, terminal space, etc., that the airport will provide to PC and the fees that the airport board will charge for such services.
“The airport board is pleased to take this first and historic formal step towards the establishment of passenger air service in Eastern Kentucky,” said Bill Hickman, Chairperson of the Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board. “This new service will link the region directly to the domestic and global air service systems and will provide a seamless and easy to use service for all of our region’s air travelers. This new service looks to the future of the region and will help to create new jobs,” Hickman continued.
The second agreement outlines how the City of Pikeville will manage its revenue guarantee fund to support the start-up of new air service at PBX.
These two agreements are the first of what is expected to be a series of three agreements to be developed between PC and the airport board, the City of Pikeville and the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
In 2011, the City of Pikeville was awarded a $750,000 USDOT Small Community Air Service Development grant for the purpose of funding the City’s revenue guarantee to the first company to commit to providing service. This grant was augmented with a multi-county coal severance tax grant of $1 million, which was announced last year by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.
(Since the governor’s announcement, the state grant has been reduced to $670,588, due entirely to the reduction in coal mining and receipts to the state’s multi-county coal severance tax fund)
“Each of the project partners has approached this project very carefully in terms of recruiting a provider to the community that will best meet our needs,” said Donovan Blackburn, Pikeville City Manager. “By working together, Corporate Flight Management and Public Charters will bring new air service to Pikeville which will become an important tool in our toolbox when it comes to creating new jobs throughout the region,” said Blackburn.
The third agreement, expected to be signed at a later date this Fall, will be between PC and the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. This agreement will cover marketing and promotion of the new service. “The Chamber looks forward to playing an active role in helping to develop and promote the new service throughout the region,” said Jared Arnett, President/CEO of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber.
The new service, which is expected to begin in March 2014, will feature nonstop turboprop flights operated by CFM under contract to PC from PBX to the Nashville International Airport (BNA). PC will provide all ticket distribution, ticket counter, and check-in services, as well as coordination of ground handling and fueling services in both Pikeville and Nashville. PC will also develop sales platforms for tickets for the new flights on virtually every Internet travel site, such as Travelocity, etc., (tickets will also be available for sale via PC’s web site and over the telephone). CFM will conduct all flight operations using their BAE Jetstream 19-passenger turboprop airliners.
“The new flights to Nashville will be timed to allow Pikeville travelers to connect to nonstop connecting flights to 49 destinations throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico,” said Luke B. Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC and project consultant.
“Travelers will be able to connect to any of the nine airlines which serve BNA, including low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines which has a major presence in Nashville,” Schmidt continued. “Fully 23 of the Top 25 business destinations for Pikeville travelers will be only one stop away by connecting in Nashville. This new service will eliminate the need to drive to Lexington, Charleston and Huntington/Ashland when it comes time to travel,” said Schmidt.
Public Charters, Inc. has been offering charter flights by partnering with numerous air carriers since 1999. PC focuses on markets that are underserved by major airs’ scheduled services. The company partners with companies such as CFM to provide regularly scheduled public charter flights and provides support in the area of ticket sales and ground handling. PC’s services are offered on a fleet of aircraft ranging from turboprops to Boeing 737s.
Corporate Flight Management is the largest operator of BAE Jetstream J31/J32 and J41 turboprop aircraft in the U.S. The company has provided unique scheduled passenger air service from Austin and Nashville to the new regional airport in Branson, Missouri. The company holds the coveted ARGUS Platinum safety rating and operates a substantial aircraft maintenance and overhaul facility in Smyrna. The company also manages a fleet of privately owned aircraft, ranging from piston twin engine aircraft to light and medium jets, operating from five bases in the Eastern United States, and holds numerous charter contracts with the State of Tennessee, the U.S. federal government and several collegiate sports teams.
A formal community announcement with more details on the new service is scheduled for October 17, 2013 at the Pikeville – PikeCountyRegionalAirport. Schedules and ticket prices will also be announced at a later date.
The City of Pikeville is a Fourth Class City and is the county seat of Pike County, the largest geographical county in Kentucky. Pikeville is the regional center for education, employment, health care, manufacturing, mining and tourism in a region comprised of nine Kentucky counties, three Virginia counties and one West Virginia county with a regional population of 345,000 people. The Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board owns and operates the city/county airport. The Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce represents 500 members in eight Kentucky counties and has established a support network for businesses in Southeast Kentucky that are committed to improving the local economy, regional unity, political advocacy and economic development. By working together, these three entities are leading efforts to establish scheduled commercial air service in Eastern Kentucky. L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC is a full-service management consulting company based in Louisville, Kentucky and provides consulting services to this group in the area of facilitating air service.