Pilot shortages cause airline to drop services in Greenbrier County, airport board recommends replacement

SkyWest Airlines
SkyWest Airlines(WVVA)
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 5:25 PM EDT
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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) - In March of 2022, SkyWest, a Utah-based American regional airline, announced its decision to pull services from multiple cities, including Lewisburg. The airline is part of the Essential Airline Service Program, overseen by the Division of Transportation (DOT).

Brian Belcher, Airport Director at the Greenbrier Valley Airport, believes the move is directly related to the national pilot shortage. This shortage is making it harder for airlines to maintain schedules. It is also causing thousands of flights to be delayed and even canceled.

“They are short on pilots,” he explained. “It’s every airline in America and around the world there’s a pilot shortage.”

With SkyWest off the table, the DOT began looking for alternative companies. Four bids came in to operate in Greenbrier County.

On Monday, the Greenbrier County Aiport Authority Board made its decision.

“Our board got input from other community leaders and listened to businesses around the area,” Belcher said. “There was some support for keeping SkyWest but, at the end of the day, I think, when they weighed everything, they felt like that was the best decision to recommend Contour.”

Contour Airlines operates out of Smyrna, Tennessee.

If the DOT accepts the board’s recommendation, Belcher says it will mean more available seats and additional travel opportunities out of Greenbrier County.

“I think they’ll be successful here. This is a really good market with the resorts that we have. It’s a tourism-based market, so we have a lot of inbound passengers...”

The potential change will also mean air travelers won’t be grounded at the Greenbrier Valley Airport.

The airport believes guests could see these changes by the end of the year.

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