Lehigh Valley

Southwest, AirTran cancel service at LVIA

Southwest, AirTran cancel service at LVIA

HANOVER TWP., Pa. - It's a final boarding call for AirTran Airlines at Lehigh Valley International Airport.

The airline announced it will stop all service effective August 12.

So the question becomes: what's next for LVIA and will there still be service to Orlando?

Lehigh Valley International Airport is one of six airports the airline will stop serving.

When AirTran first set up shop at Lehigh Valley International Airport, the company rolled out the red carpet for passengers.

Now AirTran is closing up.

"It's hard enough to go places from here; now they are just making it harder," said Charlie Daniels from Coopersburg.

"We were of course very disappointed. We have contingency plans in place that we have been working on effortlessly as well." said Susan Kittle, Director of Business Development for the Lehigh - Northampton Airport Authority.

The decision comes after AirTran was purchased by Southwest Airlines.

For months, people in the Lehigh Valley tried to persuade the airline giant they should keep doing business at LVIA.

Board members say keeping one non-stop flight a day didn't fit Southwest's plan.

"There are other AirTran markets that have eight flights a day already," said Kittle, "so it was a natural fit for Southwest to focus on those cities because it fits their model better."

The board is now courting other airlines to take the place of AirTran.

They can't comment on if it is a major carrier or a regional carrier.

People at the airport say they if they don't find another airline, things could get bad.

"The more airlines that pull out of here, the more people are going to refuse to fly out of here," added Daniels. "They'll go somewhere else."

The airport is currently undergoing a $7 million renovation.

"Renovations are nice and all that, but what brings people to the airport are flights, not cafes," said Daniels.

Board members say to be patient. They are hoping the gates won't be empty long, if at all.

"We do hope to have a plan in place where there won't be significant loss of ridership from the Lehigh Valley International Airport," said Kittle.

Board members were quick to point out that they are losing an airline but not a destination.

AirTran flew one non stop flight to Orlando. Allegiant Air also flies to Orlando from LVIA.

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