(Reporter Gerard Knehans at Missourinet Waynesville affiliate KJPW Radio contributed to this story)
Officials in south-central Missouri’s Waynesville and St. Robert announced on Tuesday that Contour Airlines will be launching commercial jet service from Fort Leonard Wood next month.
Tennessee-based Contour will be flying daily from the Waynesville-St. Robert Regional Airport (WSRA) to St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Contour chief executive officer Matt Chaifetz says passengers will enjoy comfortable seating.
“Service will begin on February 12. We’ll be offering 12 weekly roundtrip flights on an ERJ-135 regional jet with 30 seats all featuring the amount of leg room that you’d get in first class on a major airline,” Chaifetz tells Missourinet Waynesville affiliate KJPW Radio.
Chaifetz says introductory fares will begin at $29 each way for tickets purchased before January 22. He says the flight from Fort Leonard Wood to Lambert will be 24 minutes.
Chaifetz and St. Robert’s mayor held a Tuesday press conference to make the announcement.
Missouri House Majority Whip Steve Lynch, R-Waynesville, also attended the event.
Chaifetz says the airline will provide safe, fast and affordable flights.
“We’ll have two daily departures (from WSRA) Monday through Friday,” says Chaifetz. “The first departure will be at 7:25 in the morning and the second departure will be at 2:45 in the afternoon, and we will have two inbound flights on Sunday through Friday.”
Contour will replace Cape Air at the Waynesville-St. Robert Regional Airport. Chaifetz says Cape Air handled about 8,000 flights in 2018.
“We want to make sure that we get the airport across the 8,000 passenger threshold and we think we can do that. In all of our market that we serve we’ve seen a major increase in passenger traffic as a result of our reliability, the aircraft being used and our fare structure,” Chaifetz says.
Contour serves six states, and its website emphasizes that passengers receive a complimentary first checked bag and one carry-on item.
Economic development leaders in the region say the new commercial jet service will benefit the Fort Leonard Wood area’s tourism industry.
The nonprofit organization “Sustainable Ozarks Partnership” says more than 150,000 visitors travel to the Fort Leonard Wood region annually to attend military graduations.
Fort Leonard Wood’s website says it trains about 82,600 military and civilians annually. The website notes it’s home to the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and now trains for the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School as well as the U.S. Army Engineer School.
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