Appalachian Air moving closer to takeoff


The Associated Press

A consultant says Appalachian Air has cleared another hurdle and can start working toward flying in and out of Pikeville, four months after it was scheduled to take its maiden voyage

Adviser Luke Schmidt told the Pikeville City Commission this week that the Pikeville-Pike County Airport won't need a certification from the federal government before allowing the airline to start flying.

The Appalachian News-Express reported ( ) that the Transportation Security Administration still must approve the airport's plan and security measures.

Schmidt said until that approval comes through, there's no way to know when Appalachian Air can start flying. Schmidt said. he hopes for TSA approval within a month.

The airline had been scheduled to make its first flight on April 14.

While getting $1.5 million in funding to provide a subsidy for the airline and finding an airline, Corporate Flight Management, and supporting company, Public Charters, to provide the service was taken care of early in the process, the project was stopped dead.

Schmidt said the airport was informed that because it was not certified under a particular portion of federal aviation law, the service could not begin.

"There were conflicting views within the agency as to whether we should or shouldn't have to do it," he said. "We just could not come to an agreement between all of us as to what needed to be done or what didn't have to be done."

The City of Pikeville hired legal counsel in Washington, D.C. and the counsel informed officials early this month that the agencies involved had decided that the certification was not necessary for the service to begin as proposed.

"Now we can all move forward with a quite of bit of confidence that we're in a good, good spot," Schmidt said.

Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn said asked the community bear with city officials as this project gets underway.

"I know everybody's impatient," he said. "The community wants to see this service. Nobody wants to see it more than (the commission). We're over a lot of the hurdles and moving forward."

Schmidt reiterated during the meeting that despite what critics have said of the air service, it will get started.

"In spite of what a handful of folks have said, this service will launch, it will operate and it's going to be a service that's going to put this community on the map even more than it is now," he said.

Information from: Appalachian News-Express,

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