Colgan Air – the airline serving Johnstown and Altoona airports – is pushing the federal government for more money to cover rising fuel costs.

Parent company Pinnacle Corp. filed documents with the U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday to terminate service at both local airports and four others, but officials said the move is just procedural.

Air service is not threatened, Pinnacle spokesman Joe Williams stressed. It is merely a strategy to increase subsidies under federal Essential Air Service contracts.

“There is no mechanism in there to handle anything like what you could call the catastrophic increase in fuel prices,” Williams said.

Airline fuel has more than doubled, from $2.10 to $4.60 a gallon, since Colgan took over local air service in 2002, acting airport manager Bill Hunt said from John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.

Last year, Colgan negotiated a new Essential Air Service contract, in which the federal government pays the carrier $2.36 million a year to provide service to Johnstown and Altoona. The contract allowed Colgan to change Johnstown’s connection from Pittsburgh to Dulles International Airport outside Washington.

By notifying the government of its intent to terminate service, Colgan will prompt the transportation department to ask for new proposals to serve the airports.

Colgan will submit a proposal – and expects to win the new contract with an increased subsidy.

“Let me emphasize our intent,” Colgan President George A. Casey said in a press release. “This is a procedural process and not indicative of any change in providing service to these excellent markets.”

Customers will see no changes in service, he added.

“The only way we can get any relief from the gas prices is to file a new bid,” Williams said.

Colgan operates all commercial flights from Johnstown and Altoona under the United Express airline banner. Flights from both airports connect to Washington-Dulles.

Johnstown departures are 6 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.

Trending Video

Recommended for you