Jets seen as a possibility for Salisbury’s airport


Now that their mega-merger is complete, American Airlines and US Airways are flying turbo-props into Salisbury-Wicomico-Ocean City Airport with new paint schemes. The consolidation creates the world’s largest airline; worldwide, American will operate nearly 6,700 daily flights to more than 330 destinations in more than 50 countries. The two airlines, for now, have more than 100,000 employees worldwide. The first American plane landed at the Salisbury earlier this month.

Jets could be flying out of the Salisbury Airport a year from now, replacing turboprops that now carry travelers, since pilots voted to modify their contract.

That would mean additional jobs at the airport and planes that are more fuel efficient and a better choice for passengers, said Martha Thomas, manager of corporate communications for American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas.

Pilots at Piedmont Airlines, a regional carrier of American Airlines Group, voted on Tuesday, Sept. 16, “to ratify the tentative agreement the company reached with the Air Line Pilots Association,” Thomas said this week.

The association is the union that represents Piedmont pilots.

“American is pleased … We look forward to working with Piedmont to add jet aircraft to their current fleet of turboprops to connect our customers in regional markets to American’s growing global network,” she said.

There is now a better chance Salisbury will have jets, but Thomas didn’t know if that will mean flights from Salisbury would be to more distant, or larger, cities.

“It is too early to determine where Piedmont might operate any potential jet aircraft it may receive from American Airlines. We continually evaluate our network to ensure we are maximizing our fleet and profitability, while matching customer demand,” Thomas said.

She shared a letter from Steve Farrow, president of Piedmont, who said he,  too,  is “very pleased” pilots ratified the tentative agreement  by a 77 percent vote.

“This agreement, which will now become part of our Collective Bargaining Agreement with ALPA, significantly broadens our options for re-fleeting Piedmont Airlines and positions our company for future success in a highly competitive industry,” Farrow wrote.

“We are beginning the process of preparing Piedmont for re-fleeting with regional jets … For those of you concerned with Dash 8 flying, rest assured that our turboprops aren’t going away any time soon.

“The Dash is an important part of the American Airlines’ route structure, and we expect to continue to fly both the -100s and -300s for the foreseeable future,” he wrote.

Two of the turboprop Dash 8s have been painted with the American Eagle logo, the name American aircraft will have at regional airports, such as Salisbury’s.

Twenty-three more are scheduled to be painted during the next several months.

If jets come to Salisbury, local pilots will have to be trained to fly them,  Thomas said, and maintenance teams must also be trained.


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