Latest Pitch to Land Additional Destination Flights out of Bridgeport Scheduled to Take Place this Week

By Jeff Toquinto on March 12, 2018 via

North Central West Virginia Airport Director Rick Rock is more than aware many in the local community would like more destination flights and additional flight to new destinations. And there’s nothing more that he would like to deliver on than doing just that.
Rock will be attending the Volaire Air Service Forum this week in Myrtle Beach with the hopes of shoring up the existing service in Bridgeport and will again make a pitch to land additional or expanded services. The conference, according to Volaire’s Web site will run March 14-16.
While there, Rock will be meeting with the airport’s existing flight providers that include Allegiant on the destination front as well as United and Skywest, which make up the airport’s daily flight service. Allegiant currently provides near year-round service with direct flights to Orlando and seasonal service to Myrtle Beach.
“This is similar to other conferences that we’ve attended and it’s kind of like speed dating for the airline industry,” said Rock after the February meeting on of the Benedum Airport Authority, the airport’s governing body. “You get to network with a lot of people in the industry and you also get to have one-on-one meetings with airlines.”
Rock said he’ll absolutely be requesting expanded and additional destination service with Allegiant. The airline has spoken positively publicly – most recently Allegiant’s Director of Corporate Communications Hilarie Grey – about the service from Bridgeport and Rock will, once again, try to leverage that to the local community’s advantage.
“Every time we see them in person and every time I talk with them on the phone I make the pitch,” said Rock. “This is a little more detailed because it’s a conference, but I’ll again be making the pitch.”
Allegiant actually offers destination service to areas that studies have shown that North Central West Virginia would be a prime market. At the top of the list is the Tampa and St. Petersburg area along with Punta Gorda in Florida. Allegiant also began hub service out of Destin, Florida, as well.
“They have just opened up a new base in Destin and we’re looking for alternative destinations in Florida,” said Rock. “We’d like to see something added to the west coast of Florida. We think we have the market for that here.”
Rock said Allegiant is creating resort areas with condos as part of their marketing plan. He believes residents from this region and even beyond would book flights to those new destinations if they are added.
“There are new markets out there for us and new markets that could be created that we could be part of,” said Rock. “Eventually, I feel confident we’ll have additional destinations out of here through Allegiant.”
Rock wasn’t sure how many airlines would attend, but said United as well as American – two of the major players – are expected to be there. He said even without formal meetings that he’ll look to have informal conversations with as many airlines as possible. The first forum last year had 10 airlines in attendance.
One thing that works well for Rock is that NCWV Airport uses Volaire as its consultant. Mike Mooney, who previously worked with another company that represented NCWV Airport, heads up Volaire and has had a long-term relationship with Rock and the local airport. Rock said that relationship, he believes, will allow him to meet with additional airlines and explore additional opportunities this week.
“This is one of the ways to build relationships that could result in new service. We wish it was as easy as just calling up an airline and telling them we want to fly to a particular destination, but that’s not how it works,” said Rock. “They have to want to be there and believe it’s profitable and that doesn’t happen overnight.”
Editor's Note: Top photo shows one of Allegiant's new Airbus 320s that are being put into rotation, while NCWV Airport Director Rick Rock is shown below.

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