Airport officials discuss potential flight plan

VIENNA — A Memphis-based airline is looking to begin offering commercial service at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

And, if all goes as planned, flights could start taking off from the local airfield in Vienna early next year, said Mark Cestari, executive vice president for business development at Southern Airways Express.

Cestari, during a Tuesday conference call with the Western Reserve Port Authority’s aviation committee, said the airline is one of the largest and fastest growing of its kind. The port authority oversees operations at the local airport in Vienna.

A large part of the market would be geared toward business travelers, Cestari explained.

“We think the (Youngstown-Warren) market would be a good fit for us,” he said.

Southern would fly a nine-passenger Cessna Caravan from the local airport. Potential destinations could include Baltimore or Pittsburgh. Cestari said service would be based on demand and passenger willingness to pay fares.

“What they’re really looking for is community support,” explained Dan Dickten, the local airport’s aviation director.

The airline proposed putting together a 90-day launch plan.

The airline, founded in 2013, provides regional service to Pittsburgh from several communities, including Franklin, Pa., Jamestown, N.Y. and Hagerstown, Md.

John Moliterno, the port authority’s executive director, said Southern is among several airlines local airport officials have been reaching out to in an effort to replace Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air. After 11 years of operating our of the local airport, Allegiant announced last month it would end service here Jan. 4.