Salisbury Regional Airport enters passenger jet age

Jet service is now available at the Salisbury Airport via American Eagle to Philadelphia daily with more jets service flights to come in the near future.At left is one of the new Embraer jets, at right is one of the venerable Dash-8 turbo-props that has served Salisbury for many years.

Pilots, mechanics and flight attendants are being hired as the Salisbury-Ocean City-Wicomico Regional Airport continues the transition from props to jets.

Last week, jet No. 27 of the E-147 Embraer fleet arrived; the 28th aircraft is expected this week, said Piedmont Airlines’ Jackie Jennings.

The Piedmont Airlines jets, each seating 50 passengers, came to Salisbury from a sister airline and have had interiors upgraded and heavy maintenance performed.

“They look completely different from props. They are longer. Of course they don’t have propellers.  They look really nice,” Jennings said, adding the planes have stirred considerable public attention.

“People really like them. A lot of people have been coming out in the evenings,” Jennings said. “We have one jet that takes off at 6:20 and every evening, people are there watching.”

By comparison, turbo props have propellers and jets have faster engines. Props are Canadian planes, while the jets came from South America. 

Every weekday, four flights are scheduled from Salisbury to Philadelphia and two to Charlotte, N.C.

Two jets and two props fly to Philadelphia — a 19-minute trip for the jets.

On Saturdays, there are three flights, two in jets and one by prop. On Sundays, there are four flights, two by jet and two by prop, Jennings said.

Daily flights begin at 6:40 a.m. and the last jet returns at 9:48 p.m.

Travelers to Charlotte are in the air about an hour. There will be the same number of flights from Salisbury to Philadelphia and Charlotte, but the jets have more seating capacity.

Salisbury is a maintenance hub for Piedmont, with plane being flown here just for service. Having maintenance based locally makes jobs there more secure, Jennings said.

 

Replacing props with jets “is great for Piedmont,” Jennings said.

 

Piedmont Airlines CEO Lyle Hogg said it was “a vote of confidence from American and a goal we worked very hard to achieve.”

“American had previously committed 20 jets to Piedmont and we are pleased that our parent company will now continue to increase the number. The expanding fleet of jets puts Piedmont on an exciting path to the future, and that will lead to even more opportunities,” Hogg stated.

Piedmont employs more than 7,000 aviation professionals across the country and operates a fleet of 37 Bombardier DHC-8 turbo-prop aircraft on nearly 300 flights per day to 53 cities. It recently opened a Philadelphia base to accommodate the fleet of Embraer 145 regional jets. The ground handling team can be found in 80 airports across the United States.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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