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Pittsburgh adding flights to regional airports

Tom Fontaine
| Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, 4:06 p.m.

A Mississippi-based airline is adding service between Pittsburgh and three regional airports this fall, officials said Saturday.

Southern Airways Express plans to begin offering three daily flights each between Pittsburgh and John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, DuBois Regional Airport in Jefferson County and Morgantown Municipal Airport in late October. The flights will be offered on nine-seat turboprop planes.

Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said the service will “help to foster economic growth.”

“This growth is an important part of our regional air service strategy. Our growing mix of regional markets … is important for business travelers,” Cassotis said.

With the new destinations, Southern — which acquired Sun Air Express in February — will fly to 10 cities from Pittsburgh. It currently flies to Altoona, Bradford, Franklin, Lancaster, Hagerstown, Md., and Jamestown, N.Y., and plans to begin service to Harrisburg this fall.

“When we took over Sun Air in February, I don't know if anyone saw that we'd be growing at this rate,” Southern spokesman Keith Sisson said.

He noted that Pittsburgh is one of the airline's hubs along with Memphis, Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International and Destin, Fla.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Southern's growth in Pittsburgh “shows they recognize the strength of our market.”

The federal government will subsidize the new service through its Essential Air Service program, which supports flights to smaller communities. Sisson said Southern will receive up to $700 a flight to operate the service.

The additions will give Pittsburgh service to 61 destinations. It currently provides about 170 average daily flights.

Before 9/11, when Pittsburgh was the former US Airways' busiest hub, the airport had more than 600 daily flights to 110 destinations. When the airport authority introduced Cassotis as CEO in late 2014, Pittsburgh had 149 average daily flights to 37 destinations.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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