CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nonstop service linking Charleston's Yeager Airport to Philadelphia International Airport will begin June 5, and airport officials say the recent merger of American Airlines and US Airways is partly responsible.The flights will depart Charleston at 1 p.m. and arrive in Philadelphia at 2:46 p.m. Return flights will leave Philadelphia at 3:25 .m. and arrive at Yeager Airport at 5:13 p.m. The flights will be offered Sunday through Friday.American and US Airways legally merged in December, but plan to continue to operate as two airlines for several years.Under the terms of the merger agreement, the airlines "had to divest of some slots in the Washington, D.C., area and at [New York's] LaGuardia" Airport, said Todd Lehmacher, an American Airlines spokesman in Philadelphia.As a consequence of the loss of the Washington and New York slots, "there was a reallocation of aircraft resources," including the 37-passenger Bombardier Dash 8 that will be making the Charleston-Philadelphia runs, Lehmacher said.US Airways' regional partner, Piedmont Airlines, will operate the Charleston-Philadelphia flights.Philadelphia International is a major hub for the merged airlines. "It's our primary trans-Atlantic hub," Lehmacher said. The airport is also close to DuPont's corporate headquarters in Wilmington, Del.
US Airways operated two daily nonstop flights to Philadelphia from Charleston in the 1990s. "At a time when other airports are cutting service, we're excited to be able to offer nonstop service to a major hub like Philadelphia International Airport," said Ed Hill, chairman of Yeager Airport's governing board.Passengers can begin booking flights for the new service starting on Saturday. Fares will be announced on that day. Online bookings can be made at www.aa.com
.In addition to the new air service for Charleston, American and US Airways announced the launch of nonstop service to Philadelphia from Lexington, Ky., and Memphis, Tenn."Today's news gives our customers even more choices and adds to more than 120 nonstop destinations we currently serve from our international gateway at Philadelphia International Airport," said Joe Taney, vice president of the airlines' Philadelphia operation.Reach Rick Steelhammer at email@example.com or 304-348-5169.