PIKEVILLE, Ky. (Nov. 6, 2013) – Appalachian Air will provide daily roundtrip service to Nashville this spring, Gov. Steve Beshear and Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers announced today. The leaders joined the local work group leading the development of scheduled passenger air service in Eastern Kentucky at the announcement at the Pikeville – Pike County Regional Airport (PBX).
The aircraft which will be used – a sleek, high performance British Aerospace BAE Jetstream J32 was also unveiled at the airport ceremony.
Beginning on March 3, 2014, Appalachian Air will provide one daily roundtrip (Monday-Sunday) between Pikeville and Nashville International Airport (BNA). Upon arrival at BNA, passengers will be able to connect to any of the nine airlines which currently serve BNA with nonstop service to 50 major destinations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“Scheduled passenger air service will open new opportunities for much of Eastern Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “What has historically been one of the more difficult regions of the Commonwealth to reach will now be less than an hour and a half flying time from connecting to the global air system in Nashville.”
“As we face a new era in eastern Kentucky and work to expand our industrial portfolio, this commercial air service launches us into the competitive market,” said Congressman Hal Rogers. “With new economic challenges ahead, we have to access greater opportunities, embrace new technology and create innovative strategies to shape our future, and this air service will provide unprecedented access to this important energy producing region.”
“Today’s announcement marks a major step forward for our region, and I am confident that this dedicated service will be widely used,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo. “This will go a long way in helping us lure more companies to the mountains.”
The new flights will be operated as regularly scheduled public charter flights by two companies: Corporate Flight Management of Smyrna, TN, which will operate as the Direct Carrier and Public Charters, Inc. of Avoca, PA, which will operate as the Indirect Carrier. A public charter flight is a form of commercial air travel where departure and arrival times, origin and destination airports and fares are advertised to the general public in accordance with a prospectus that the companies will file and which is approved by the United States Department of Transportation Special Authorities Division. The prospectus essentially serves as a contract which binds the two companies to provide the service as promoted, and the service also provides unique consumer protections to passengers.
Passengers boarding flights in Pikeville will undergo security screening and upon arrival in Nashville will deplane at a gate in the main terminal in a sterile area. Passengers will not have to go through any additional security screening in Nashville.
Corporate Flight Management, the world’s largest operator of the BAE Jetstream J32 aircraft, will be responsible for all aspects of this new service related to flying, including providing the aircraft, the flight crew and aircraft maintenance. Public Charters will be responsible for all non-flying aspects of the service, including ground handling of passengers and baggage, ticketing and ticket sales. Through its contracts and distribution rights, Public Charters will sell tickets for passengers traveling to or from PBX on all of the leading online ticket sales platforms, such as Travelocity (ticket sales will also be available through telephone sales).
“The development of passenger air service has been a long held goal of the Pikeville community,” said Donovan Blackburn, Pikeville City Manager. “In fact, one can go back as far as 1968 to see when this issue was first discussed. The new service to be provided by Appalachian Air will build on many exciting things which are underway in Pikeville, including the expansion of both the University of Pikeville, the Pikeville Medical Center and the new Pikeville Commons development and will serve as a catalyst for continued growth,” Blackburn continued.
“This new service, while supporting the existing coal industry, will help the region to begin diversifying beyond coal,” said Luke B. Schmidt, president of L.B. Schmidt & Associates LLC, the Louisville-based consulting firm that served as the air service project manager. “Companies interested in investing in this region will now find it easy to reach and this service will assist in creating new jobs. This project has been a team effort from the very beginning, and I want to congratulate my clients and colleagues for their efforts to bring Appalachian Air to Eastern Kentucky, including Donovan Blackburn, Pikeville City Manager; Bill Hickman, Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board Chairman; and Jared Arnett, President & CEO of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce,” said Schmidt.
Pikeville is a Fourth Class City and is the county seat of Pike County, the largest geographical county in Kentucky. Pikeville is the regional center for education, employment, health care, manufacturing, mining, tourism and transportation in a region comprised of nine Kentucky counties, three Virginia counties and one West Virginia county with a combined population of 345,000 people. The Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board owns and operates the city/county airport.
The Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce represents 500 members in eight Kentucky counties and has established a support network for businesses in Southeast Kentucky that are committed to improving the local economy, regional unity, political advocacy and economic development. These three entities by working together are leading efforts to establish scheduled commercial airline service in Eastern Kentucky. L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC is a full-service management consulting company based in Louisville, Kentucky and provides consulting services to this group in the area of developing and facilitating passenger air service.