Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, created the Small Community Air Service Development Program to help provide more affordable service to smaller airports.
"The Small Community Air Service Development Program is so important to West Virginia's airports, giving our families convenient access to destinations that might otherwise be unavailable to them," Rockefeller said in a statement. "Yeager Airport is a tremendous success story and I remain committed to helping it and other airports across the state grow and thrive."
Since 2001, the program has given out about $145 million in grants to small and rural airports. The grants have ranged in size from about $20,000 to $1.6 million. Over that time, six West Virginia cities (Charleston, Parkersburg, Bridgeport, Huntington, Beckley and Morgantown) have received about $3.6 million in grants.
Yeager last got a grant in 2001. It was for $500,000. Belcher said that grant was used to attract Continental Airlines to provide service to Houston. Continental has since merged with United, but the route is still in place and Belcher said the grant has been very successful.
He said the new grant will let the airport advertise a new route, not only in the Charleston area but in areas up to 2 1/2 hours away, because a low-fare airline would make Yeager an attractive point of departure for travellers.
He would not say if Yeager is in discussions with any specific airlines about the flights.
Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.