PITTSTON TWP. — Southern Airways Express, described as a fast-growing regional carrier that operates daily flights to seven Pennsylvania cities, was introduced Wednesday as the new carrier for air service between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport and Pittsburgh.
And the new carrier will offer expanded service in the form of weekend flights to the Steel City.
Just hours after Regional Sky announced it was ending its Pittsburgh route, airport Executive Director Carl Beardsley said Southern Airways will begin service from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to Pittsburgh International Airport effective Sept. 5.
Regional Sky began its twice-daily, weekday non-stop flights to Pittsburgh on April 23.
Beardsley said Southern Airways will assume the route beginning Sept. 5, with twice-daily weekday service, adding that one-way fares start at just $129.
In addition, there will be one flight in each direction on both Saturdays and Sundays.
“Our board and airport staff are pleased to see the evolution of Pittsburgh service through this arrangement with Southern Airways,” Beardsley said. “Through this partnership, we’ve expanded service while enabling our travelers to take advantage of Southern Air’s airline connecting arrangements that lead to many other great locations.”
Southern Airways Chief Commercial Officer Mark Cestari said the airline is confident that twice-daily weekday service and reasonable fares will get people out of their cars and into “our comfortable and roomy aircraft.” He said the company uses nine-passenger Cessna Caravans which have large cargo compartments. He said the aircraft are “good, sturdy planes.”
Cestari added, “We not only believe that this route will be popular with the business community, but also with students and sports fans that want easy access to the Steel City.”
A limited-time promotional fare of $129 is available for all seats purchased before Aug. 31.
Cestari said Southern will provide two non-stop flights in each direction, with weekday departures from Pittsburgh at 8:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. Flights departing from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will be at 10:10 a.m. and 5:55 p.m. The full flight schedule is available at: iFlySouthern.com.
“Today’s announcement fulfills our ongoing commitment of always striving to add better conveniences, better routes and more affordability for the people of Northeastern Pa.,” said Airport Board Chairman Patrick O’Malley.
In a news release from Regional Sky, the company said its business model was designed using corporate charter aircraft to deliver passengers to and from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Pittsburgh.
“Even though we have had many satisfied and repeat customers, we believe a different airline model is required to meet the level of enplanements required to maintain the service,” the release stated.
Southern Airways was founded in 2013 and is based in Mississippi.