Last boarding opportunity for Delta flight 5325 with service to Atlanta

A woman’s voice rang out over the Lynchburg Regional Airport intercom at 1:30 p.m. Monday.Last boarding opportunity for Delta flight 5325 with service to Atlanta, she said.It also was the last boarding opportunity in Lynchburg for any Delta flight.Delta’s final departure from the Lynchburg airport took off Monday afternoon. For some passengers, it was the last chance to fly home after spending the holidays in the area.I’ll have to work harder to get here, said Chris Romantick, a grandmother returning to Georgia.

When she booked her holiday flights to Lynchburg, Delta representatives recommended that she fly to Roanoke the next time she visits.Sheree Franklin, who is in the process of moving to Lynchburg from Seattle, said she probably would fly to Roanoke the next time she comes to Virginia.My grandmother’s always flown Delta. … Now I get to tell her I was on the last Delta flight out of Lynchburg,she said.Delta announced in October that it was losing money on the Lynchburg route and would shut down that service in January. That leaves Lynchburg with only one commercial airline, US Airways, which flies to Charlotte, N.C.

Delta’s flights have filled up in the past few years — airport statistics show Delta carried about 41 passengers per flight in November, compared to 35 per flight in November 2007.But to get that increase, Delta had to slash its fares in 2008 to compete with US Airways.Delta’s final flight was nearly full, too. Airline staff told Airport Director Mark Courtney that 40 passengers had boarded the 50-seat jet.A Delta spokesman said he could not release information about passenger numbers on any flights, but they probably have been full lately.

Given the time of year, I wouldn’t be surprised if those flights were certainly full of people traveling for the holidays,said Trebor Banstetter.Delta at one time had said that its last Lynchburg flight would take place Tuesday, but that was a misstatement, Banstetter said.Some customers bought Delta tickets for flights to or from Lynchburg after the last day of service. The airline has offered them a full refund or a chance to switch to Roanoke Regional Airport.Delta plans to add new flights connecting Roanoke to Atlanta this spring, Banstetter said.US Airways already has stepped up with some options to capture passengers in Delta’s absence.Today, US Airways will begin a flight from Lynchburg to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport at 9 a.m.Before, US Airways did not have any flights leave Lynchburg between 5:40 and 11 a.m.I think it should be a popular flight, because the 5:40 flight is gosh-darn early to get up to catch a flight, especially for leisure travelers,” Courtney said.

US Airways has just started a fare sale that cut most domestic flights, including most originating in Lynchburg, to $99 each way, Courtney said.In March, US Airways will upgrade two of its flights to Lynchburg from propeller-driven planes to 50-seat regional jets.Courtney said he will meet with US Airways representatives to discuss additional Lynchburg flights, including a possible connection to Philadelphia.He also plans to meet with United Airlines officials this month to ask them to let Colgan Air carry United passengers from Lynchburg to Washington-Dulles International Airport.He met with officials of Colgan’s parent company, Pinnacle Airlines, in December. They showed interest but made no immediate promises for Lynchburg service.

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