American Eagle (AE) jet service from Lynchburg makes the short hop—less than 30 minutes in the air—to Charlotte Douglass International Airport six times daily, connecting Hill City travelers to more than 650 departures to approximately 160 nonstop destinations throughout the United States and the world.
“There is no doubt about the fact that scheduled airline service is a key ingredient when it comes to economic development for a given region, as well as the ability to attract new business and economic growth—to attract new businesses and more jobs,” explained Mark Courtney, Airport Director of Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH).
“It is a critical economic development tool as well as a crucial part of the public infrastructure to attract and maintain economic activity.”
AE operates as a regional affiliate of American Airlines, the largest airline in the world. The service is a vital cog keeping Lynchburg’s economic engine running.
Last July, American Eagle fully converted its LYH fleet to regional jet service. Lynchburg has had jet service since 2005, but completely phasing out turbo prop aircraft, which were once prominent in regional airline service, helps meet the customer expectations of quality.
“Passengers prefer flying on a jet as opposed to a turbo prop aircraft,” Courtney said. “They are much more comfortable, they are faster, and they’re quieter. Our intent has always been to have a more seamless transition from our airline service, our American Eagle Service, when it comes to connecting to the full-size, mainline jets with the American Airlines fleet. It enhances and improves the quality service index.”
Charlotte serves as a convenient connecting hub, one that’s close and accesses all of the major cities in the U.S., as well as several medium and small sized cities and key international destinations in Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean.
“If you don’t have service with more than one airline, then the next best thing is service being provided by the largest airline in the world to one of their major hubs,” Courtney said.
But Courtney added that Lynchburg doesn’t plan to just stop there. “We are very hopeful that we will be able to attract United Airlines service here sometime in the next year or so,” he said.
United actually served Lynchburg until shortly after 9/11. As it begins expanding its presence in Washington (D.C.) Dulles International Airport, as part of a new lease agreement, the airline is seeking to grow its feeder traffic there. He said LYH is actively working with United to get them to return service to Lynchburg.
“The return of United service to Lynchburg will, I think, help our seat capacity and our departures and our options enough that we would certainly see a big pop in our passenger traffic,” Courtney said. The demand in Lynchburg is there. United could be the key to the supply.
“It interjects additional competition,” Courtney added. “Plus, it adds another major airline’s entire network. It provides us with a critical northern connecting hub, greater choices, more seats, and more flights so that we can continue to grow.”
Transportation to and from the Lynchburg Region is easily accessible. U.S. 29 and U.S. 460 connect the region to the interstate system. Amtrak travels from Lynchburg to Washington, DC, twice daily and also to Roanoke. Amtrak’s Crescent makes a stop in Lynchburg on its way from New York to New Orleans. Greyhound Lines provide bus service.