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Yeager officials seek new airline to offer direct flight to New York

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Yeager Airport officials are working with multiple air carriers to replace American Airlines' daily non-stop flight to New York City, which is scheduled to end in June.

American Airlines announced in March it would begin daily jet service between Charleston and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Texas beginning June 12. That flight will replace American's current daily flight to New York City.

While flyers can still travel to the Big Apple using connecting flights, the move will mark the end of the airport's only direct flight there.

Airport marketing director Brian Belcher said airport officials are in talks with other airlines to set up a new non-stop flight for the area.

"That's one of our top priorities -- to find another airline to fly to New York," Belcher said.

Belcher said travel data showed 53 percent of passengers on the direct flights were New Yorkers visiting West Virginia.

The non-stop flight carried about 40 percent of travelers going between Charleston and New York. About 60 percent of passengers used indirect flights to travel between the two cities.

 Belcher said the American route - which left at 6:15 a.m. and arrived at New York's LaGuardia Airport at 8:15 a.m. - was a great option for Charleston residents.

However, the New York to Charleston schedule was less accommodating. Flights from New York didn't arrive in Charleston until 8:15 p.m.

Belcher said American Airlines felt the direct flight to Dallas would be a more profitable venture.

"It was just a matter of them wanting to maximize," Belcher said. "If they're going to have one flight, they want to get the maximum revenue."

He said there are travel opportunities with Boy Scouts of America, which is headquartered in Texas. And many West Virginia University fans travel to Texas to watch the Mountaineers play opponents in the Big 12 Conference.

The Dallas airport is also American's domestic and international flight hub, which opens the Charleston route to many more national and international flight connections.

"We're very excited to have their Dallas hub," Belcher said.

Belcher said the New York to Charleston flight could be a good fit for some of the other airlines that already have a Charleston presence.

He said United Airlines operates a hub at the Newark, N.J. airport, while Delta Airlines has existing service at both LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports in New York.

"It's a good opportunity," Belcher said. "We think someone will do it, it's just a matter of whoever has the right aircraft available and if they feel good about making a profit in the market."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.

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