John Murtha Johnstown Cambria County Airport

John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport is shown in this undated file photo.

While Johnstown airport leaders await word on selection of a commuter airline, Boutique Air Inc. has been named to serve Altoona-Blair County Airport.

Boutique will replace Southern Airways Express on Jan. 1 to provide service from the Martinsburg airfield to Pittsburgh and Baltimore/Washington international airports, the federal Department of Transportation announced Monday.

The department also ordered Southern to continue operating the service under its current subsidy until Dec. 31. Southern’s contract was to expire on Sept. 30.

Johnstown-Cambria County Airport members said the board has not received information on a timeline for the selection of an airline for Johnstown.

“I know they have to make a decision within a reasonable amount of time for the transition to occur,” enplanements committee Chairman Michael Parrish said after Tuesday’s authority meeting.

“We are just waiting to see,” authority Chairman James Loncella said.

San Francisco-based Boutique has operated Johnstown’s commuter service for almost two years under the Essential Air Service program that subsidizes air service for smaller communities. Boutique replaced Southern in Johnstown in November 2018.

Boutique’s contract expires Oct. 31 and it is one of four airlines that submitted proposals for the EAS contract.

On a split vote, the Johnstown airport authority last month recommended the EAS contract be awarded to SkyWest Airlines of St. George, Utah. SkyWest would operate 50-passenger twin jet aircraft for once-daily round-trips to Washington’s Dulles International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Although the final decision rests with the DOT, the local airport authority’s recommendation is given consideration.

The Altoona airport authority recommended Boutique be named to replace Southern.

In selecting Boutique for Altoona, the federal order shows officials considered local input and also noted Boutique has a maintenance facility in Johnstown as one of the airline’s advantages.

Boutique executives say the maintenance facility will not remain at the Johnstown airport if Boutique is not selected here.

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.

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