- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - An effort to provide commercial air service between Pikeville, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn. has stalled.

Appalachian Air had been scheduled to start offering flights last week. Media reported that the initiative has been delayed because the airport in Pikeville hasn’t yet obtained all the proper certifications.

Officials with the city, the airport board and the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce have been working on the initiative for four years. They said the setback is disappointing but temporary.

“We didn’t want to come to this but the reality is it is where we are. It is something progressive and outside of the box, anytime you do that you take risk of things falling apart,” said Jared Arnett, president and CEO of Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Arnett says some officials see the initiative as the one shot eastern Kentucky has for commercial air service.

“We’ve invested a lot of time, resources, and effort into building this. It is like the old adage, ‘now or never’. If we don’t make this service work, we at the chamber truly believe that it will likely never happen in Eastern Kentucky.”

Officials say they will keep working to get certified.

“The group is working diligently and closely with the FAA and DOT to resolve this issue, which is also necessary for finalizing the remaining project components with TSA,” according to a statement released by officials.

“We can fly under a different certification but we limit ourselves to the amount of passengers we can take up,” City Manager Donovan Blackburn said.

The current certification allows only nine passengers. Appalachian Air has capacity for 19.

“It is as simple as filling out paper work. We have to show certain aspects that the airport has, which it does meet. Preliminary tests have been done and looked at the preliminary results,” Blackburn said.

There is no timetable on when commercial flights might begin.


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