VIENNA - Local travelers so far have pledged to spend $3.6 million on potential commercial flights at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
The ''travel bank'' initiative is being used by local airport officials to lure regularly scheduled daily flights to the airport. The nonbinding pledges came from both business and individual travelers, said airport Director of Aviation Dan Dickten.
"This will be a very strong message to airlines interested in operating from the local airport," Dickten said.
A travel bank is a list of pledges made by local, frequent travelers stating what each would spend annually on new air service should it be initiated from a local airport.
The purpose is to quantify travel demand for the airline that is otherwise unquantifiable. It shows that the local community is very supportive of potential new air service and is willing to put its money where its mouth is to pledge this high level of support.
Spokesmen at two of the airlines being courted for daily service on Monday declined to comment on their talks with the local airport or on what effect travel bank pledges would have on their decision. Dickten previously said the airlines most likely to provide service locally would be connector carriers of United, U.S. Airways and Delta.
Joe Micucci, spokesman for United, reached Monday confirmed that demand and the airport's global network support are important factors his company uses to make air service decisions.
Others include supply and the cost to operate at the airport. He would not specifically comment on use of the travel bank in the airport's efforts.
Todd Lehmacher, spokesman for U.S. Airways in Philadelphia, declined to comment on possible service to Youngstown-Warren or on the effectiveness of local travel banks.
An attempt to reach a media spokesman at Delta was not successful.