By TINA ALVEY
LEWISBURG, W.Va. — A single round-trip flight Monday between Lewisburg and Charlotte marked the resumption of Via Airlines’ scheduled commercial service at Greenbrier Valley Airport.
According to a release issued Friday evening by Matthew Macri, Via’s vice president of operations, and forwarded to local media by the airport, an “abbreviated” schedule this week will give way to a full slate of flights the week of Jan. 15.
Greenbrier Valley officials had suspended Via’s commercial service at the airport on New Year’s Eve without a public explanation. The airport announced Friday that the suspension had been lifted.
Airport manager Stephen Snyder said this week’s schedule calls for one round trip starting in Charlotte today; no flights Wednesday; jet service Thursday from Charlotte to Lewisburg, back to Charlotte and then on to St. Augustine, Fla., returning to Charlotte and finally Lewisburg that evening; and one Lewisburg to Charlotte round trip Friday.
“Via Airlines is pleased to have been able to work out any differences between the carrier and the Greenbrier Valley Airport,” the Friday release quotes Macri as saying. “We are committed to not only the airport, but as well the community and people that we serve, which also includes offering safe and affordable air service which is the foundation for which our airline was built upon.”
Snyder is quoted in the release as commenting, “We are pleased with the discussions that took place and look forward to our continued relationship with Via Airlines.”
Via’s release refers to a “closure of the airport terminal” which kept the airline from operating its flights until an accord was reached among the parties involved. An agreement was hashed out during a Thursday conference call among Via, airport representatives and other unidentified “stakeholders,” the release indicates.
According to the release, after the air carrier addressed certain unspecified issues, “it was decided that the terminal would be reopened, thus allowing Via Airlines to resume operations.”
Contacted by The Register-Herald on Monday, Snyder declined to elaborate on issues raised in Via’s release, saying, “The press release will have to speak for itself. I cannot say more.”
Snyder did respond to questions about progress that is being made to introduce a new restaurant operation into the airport terminal.
“It needed a much, much more comprehensive redesign than we originally thought,” he said. “Nothing of the restaurant that used to be there will remain. It’s a complete gut job.”
He estimated that installation of a new 150-gallon grease trap separator will cost around $60,000. In addition, the remodel will include new fire suppression hoods, walls and ceilings.
“It’s going to cost a lot, but laying out the money now will get us where we need to be for the next 20 years,” Snyder said.
Although he said it’s too early to set forth a firm timeline for completion of the remodel, Snyder said design work is now completed, and several local general contractors have been contacted about the work needed.
“Nothing really superior happens overnight,” he said.
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