Story by Chris Graham
Air travelers leaving the Shenandoah Valley for the Northeast now have to budget for as much as six or seven hours of time in the air and in the airport.
Beginning Feb. 18, they can cut that time by half or more.
Colgan Air and the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport announced today that a new United Express will replace the existing US Airways Express as the service connecting the Valley to Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia.
Airport executive director Greg Campbell told The Augusta Free Press this morning that the service will utilize the new 34-seat Saab 340 airplanes that Colgan Air brought to SVRA last month.
The big benefit to travelers, Campbell said, is a direct connection to the United hub at Dulles.
“Now since you’re flying one airline to Dulles and then getting on another one and flying from Dulles to your final destination, which in most cases is United, because Dulles is the hub for United, and United operates 80 percent of the flights at Dulles, the pricing becomes more attractive. That’s one benefit,” Campbell said.
“As far as timing goes, for instance, if you take our morning originator at 6:40 a.m. up to Dulles, and say you’re going to go into the Northeast, LaGuardia or somewhere else, right now, because you’re connecting between two airlines, there’s a pretty good time in between flights that’s required by the two airlines to make sure that you connect and that you don’t have problems and that your baggage makes it between the two airlines and all that,” Campbell said.
“Once we’re in the United system, and we’re coming into the United gate areas, they’re much more comfortable with the connection – and we’ll see that time gap shrink considerably. So whereas now you leave at 6:40 in the morning and some of those Northeast destinations you might not get into until early afternoon, you’ll actually be in by 9 or 10 a.m.,” Campbell said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.