Flights to D.C. now offered: Southern Airways provides trips to Dulles International

MORGANTOWN — No matter where in the world you want to go, chances are you can start that journey right here in Morgantown.

Especially true following this week’s formal announcement that Southern Airways Express — Morgantown’s essential air service carrier — now has an interline agreement with United Airlines and has moved its Washington, D.C., operations out of Baltimore/Washington International Airport and into Dulles International Airport, a United hub.

Southern Airways flew a delegation from Morgantown to D.C. this week, where it was joined by parties from Pennsylvania cities Bradford, DuBois and Lancaster for the announcement and ceremonial ribbon cutting.

“Coming to Dulles has been an endeavor that we’ve been working on for almost a year.,” Southern Airways Chief Commercial Officer Mark Cestari said, explaining that the partnership with United gives Morgantown single-stop international connections to more than 55 cities around the world.

Additionally, Scott Cooper, airline business development director for Dulles International Airport, explained that IAD will have its own metro station in the coming months, meaning travelers for whom D.C. is the final destination can get from the airport to the city’s downtown in less than an hour for $6.

Hopping on a plane in Morgantown is faster, easier and cheaper than driving to Pittsburgh or Washington to catch a flight, according to Morgantown Municipal Airport Director Jonathon Vrabel.

Number one, you’re not driving, so no gas and no daily parking fees. Parking is free at MGW. It’s about a 20-minute flight to Pittsburgh and about 55 minutes to Washington D.C., gate-to-gate.

Number two, it takes a minute or two to get through security in Morgantown, meaning if you’re catching a flight out of IAD or PIT, there’s no need to stand in line.

Number three, there’s no checking bags. The bags transfer with you, usually at no charge.

“You take your bag off Southern’s plane right there when you get on the ground … When you take your bag over to United, you gate-check it, and 99% of the time, United is not going to charge you for that bag when you check it at the gate,” Vrabel said.

Vrabel went on to say that between the American Airlines hub in Pittsburgh and the United hub in Dulles, Morgantown is better connected than ever.

“We’d really like the community to look at Morgantown first when they decide they’d like to go somewhere, because with the connections we have today, it’s easier to fly out of Morgantown than it ever has been,” he said.

MGW offers three flights daily to both Pittsburgh, starting at $29, and Washington, starting at $39.

Southern Airways Express replaced Silver Airways as Morgantown’s air carrier in late 2016, largely due to reliability issues with Silver.

“We have a very good record of reliability. We know that in your communities, we are the only airline there, so we have to be reliable,” Cestari said. “I have to say that one of my biggest concerns about coming to Dulles was maintaining that reliability, but I’m happy to report the first five weeks have gone very, very smoothly in terms of reliability.”

According to Vrabel, about 70% of the seats available on the six daily flights out of MGW are filled, marking the climb back to pre-COVID operations.

“That’s a good number. It shows there is a demand. Most of that demand is recreational travel and less traditional business. With everything that’s gone on with COVID, folks want to get away. They want to get out of town and do the things they haven’t been able to do for a while,” he said.

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