Southern Airways Continues Promotional Push in Jefferson County, Region

aaeaaqaaaaaaaafxaaaajdmyotc4ndc5ltyzm2ytndizys05m2ixlwfhnmizndzlyzg4ywWASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Jefferson Co. (EYT) — Southern Airways Express, the new carrier at DuBois Regional Airport, continued its promotional push at Friday’s Jefferson County Development Council 18th Annual Corporation Meeting Program.

Mark Cestari, Southern’s Executive Vice President of Business Development, was the guest speaker at Friday’s meeting.

Cestari explained the Airway’s plans at DuBois Regional, touting cheap airfares for business and pleasure travelers to Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Chief among Southern’s publicity push are $29 (one-way) airfares to Pittsburgh and $49 to Baltimore.

“That fare will be available on every flight, not every seat, but every flight out of DuBois,” Cestari said.

Travel times were also part of the campaign with Cestari saying it’s about 40-45 minutes, gate-to-gate, to Pittsburgh and one hour to Baltimore.

Cestari, a veteran in the commuter air business, also said Southern will have the manpower to overcome things that could delay flights.

“Bad things happen in this business, weather happens, mechanical happens, but if you have spare planes and spare pilots, you can overcome these issues and run on time,” Cestari said. “We have 22 planes and 88 pilots.”

Nov. 30, flights by Southern will begin at DuBois Regional.

“The past year, we show up on time 98 to 99 percent of the time,” Cestari said. “It’s what makes a small airline work.”

Southern’s fleet consists of single engine Cessna Caravan planes that seat nine people per flight. They will offer three flights per day to Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Cestari also touted the advantages of offering service to Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

“There are 350 non-stop flights out of Baltimore and 150 out of Pittsburgh. Pittsbugh has become a low-cost place to fly out of.”

Southern is still negotiating with current employees at the airport.

“Our plan is to keep those who currently work there,” Cestari said. “I don’t know what the status of the negotiations are, but those are the plans, to retain the current workers.”

Southern is a commuter airline that was founded by Stan Little in 2013 and its first passenger flight took place June 6 that year.

Southern also has service in Franklin, Bradford, Altoona, Harrisburg and Johnstown.

In a press release from U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, the agreement for the Essential Air Services Contract will bring $2.9 million annually in federal taxpayer dollars to subsidize approximately 4,000 individual passengers who utilize the commuter service at the airport.

The contract runs through through Oct. 31, 2018.

Also, the airport receives state grants and annual subsidies.

Jefferson County’s was $140,000 this year while Clearfield County gave $70,000. Clearfield County Commissioners recently said its subsidy would be $60,000.

Brad Lashinsky, the JCDC Executive Director, said a recent study showed that the airport generated $28 million annually in the local economy.

“It’s why we are so encouraged to see Southern come in here and want to do business. We know what the airport generates,” Lashinsky said.

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