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Yeager, Delta deal brings full-size jets to city

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Yeager Airport and Delta Air Lines have inked a deal to bring daily full-size jet flights back to the airport for the first time since 2001.

The Charleston-to-Atlanta, Ga. flights will start March 2.

A Delta DC-9 aircraft capable of seating 125 passengers will depart Yeager at 7 a.m. each day and will arrive from Atlanta at 8:33 p.m.

The plane features 12 first-class seats — marking the first time Yeager flights have had business class service since U.S. Airways pulled daily flights following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Airport marketing director Brian Belcher said the deal was a major boost to the airport's commercial flight portfolio.

"It's a big deal for us, " Belcher said.

"We're really excited about this because we haven't had DC-9 service since we had U.S. Airways' mainline," he said. "This will be the first daily mainline service we've had since 2001."

Mainline service is one that's operated by a major airline corporation, instead of its regional subsidiaries. Delta subsidiaries currently offer daily flights to Atlanta and Detroit, Mich.

"Delta's never a flown mainline aircraft out of Charleston," he said. "They'll have the only business class cabin — that's really big for us to get that."

Belcher said Atlanta is one of the airport's most popular destinations for business travelers.

"It's a huge international connection," he said.

The airport currently has up to six flights per day going to Atlanta, but those flights are on smaller Bombardier Canadair regional jets that hold only 50 passengers.

"There's a lot of business people that travel that want to buy a first-class ticket but haven't been able to because we haven't had it for so long," Belcher said.

The larger flights will allow business travelers to go first-class all the way to their international destinations.

"Now they can buy a first-class ticket from Charleston to Atlanta, then go on to their destination from there," Belcher said.

It will also allow international or domestic travelers to fly first class all the way into Charleston as well.

Belcher said he didn't know how much the additional Atlanta flight would stimulate airport traffic but said it marks a significant move by Delta to increase its presence in the region.

"It will probably give Delta a larger share of the market," he said.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at jared.hunt@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148.


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