The possibility of flying out of Jamestown at a competitive price has been discussed since August.
Now, it's a reality.
Silver Airways, a company connected with United Airlines, is offering one-way, nonstop flights between Jamestown and Cleveland for $49.
Airplanes are seen coming and going at the Jamestown Airport Thursday.
P-J photos by Katie Atkins
"We're trying to make it clear to people that you don't have to go to Erie or Buffalo to get inexpensive flights," said Sam Arcadipane, director of airports and parks for the county. "Now, getting to Cleveland and connecting is cheaper than driving to Buffalo with fees, gas, tolls and time. Having a $98 roundtrip ticket beats the expense of driving to Buffalo or Erie."
For more than a year, Arcadipane and the Chautauqua County Airport Commission have been in discussion with several different airlines in an attempt to obtain affordable travel prices.
The commission heard presentations from three different providers in August, and signed a contract with Silver Airways last week.
"This is the best price for commuter flights in a long time," Arcadipane said. "The region needs to understand that this is a 'shuttle' service to get our folks to a hub, lowering overall travel cost when they book their flight."
Through Feb. 15, tickets must be purchased 21 days in advance of travel and can be booked at www.united.com.
Currently, the Jamestown Airport caters to military and business passengers. However, Arcadipane hopes all travelers will take advantage of the new, lower fare. Additionally, parking is free and average travel time from arrival to home is less than 30 minutes, he said.
In the future, Arcadipane hopes to add competitive flights connecting to destinations such as Pittsburgh and Newark, but Cleveland is the first step, he said.
Silver Air also connects passengers from Bradford, Franklin and Dubois, Pa. along with Parkersburg, W.Va. to Cleveland.
Arcadipane wants to bring in larger planes and accommodate more passengers down the road. However, the runway needs to be extended by 1,000 feet. Currently, the airport has 5,300 feet of runway, and extending it would be expensive, Arcadipane said.
Still, there are cost-saving methods such as adding 500 feet on each end rather than extending downhill on the east end, which would require more construction.
In addition to bringing in more options in the future, Arcadipane has been looking for ways to improve the use of the airport.
It is equipped with an extensive fire and rescue team and vehicles capable of handling large fires. Arcadipane's crew works consistently in keeping runways clear for arriving flights, of which there are usually three per day.
Along with free parking, conference rooms are available and the airport's restaurant, Tarmac Cafe, was recently updated to a 50s-style diner under new ownership. Arcadipane said the Tarmac Cafe has seen high foot traffic since it opened in October. Current hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays for their weekly fish fry; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays with a brunch buffet.
The restaurant also has enough space to host business meetings and banquets. Take-out and delivery services are also available.