New air service coming to Dayton International Airport

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Dayton city officials will announce a new airline and new non-stop destination service at Dayton International Airport Thursday morning.

A city announcement of a press conference planned for Thursday at the airport did not identify the carrier or the destination.

But Dayton-area business leaders have been pressing for more flights, Chris Kershner, chief executive of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, recently told the Dayton Daily News.

The city of Dayton and the chamber recently joined the Rally for Air Service coalition, which describes itself as a national group of communities and organizations concerned about a worsening national shortage of pilots.

Airports that serve mid-size and smaller cities and airports have been challenged in the aftermath of the pandemic, exacerbated by a years-long shortage of pilots and cockpit flight crew.

In a recent interview with the Dayton Daily News, Gil Turner, Dayton’s aviation director, said he remains optimistic there is a future for smaller, regional airports if the Federal Aviation Administration can update rules on flight training hours and perhaps ease mandatory retirement ages — pilots must retire at 65 — and VISA conditions for immigrant pilots.

“There are a few solutions that could be implemented,” Turner said. “There are solutions out there.”

“The demand (for new flights) is there,” he added. “We’re seeing about a 80% load factor on most of the aircraft that are in and out of Dayton.”

The Regional Airline Association, which advocates for smaller airlines, found that total scheduled departures from regional airports declined 22% from 2019 to 2021.

Major airlines serve just about 34% of the nation’s commercially served airports, according to the RAA. Everyone else relies on regional carriers.

“Communities have a right-now problem where they are losing air service at crisis levels,” Faye Malarkey Black, CEO of the RAA, recently told the Dayton Daily News.

The problems are many: Pilots at regional airlines often move on to larger carriers, which pay better, and when regional airlines leave airports, the bigger airlines are less likely to serve those airports.

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