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Last Passenger Carrier Will Pull Out of Rocky Mt.-Wilson Airport

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ROCKY MOUNT — In less than two months, Down East fliers will no longer have the convenience of taking off from their hometown airport.

Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport's (RWI) last passenger carrier, U.S. Airways Express, will cease its service March 2.

The airline's announcement to pull out of RWI was not a surprise. Travelers have been driving to RDU International, taking advantage of the low-cost carriers there.

"[Also because of] the fact that they have a tremendous schedule, larger airplanes, more direct flights," says Hans Hess, RWI's manager.

U.S. Airways Express says it cannot make a profit at RWI. As passengers continued to leave, the number of flights has dropped.

The loss of passenger service does not mean the airport will close. A runway extension is in the works, and the airport will continue its corporate and cargo service. But money will be hard to come by.

Passenger service brought in about half of the airport's yearly income. The chances of luring another carrier look slim.

"The outlook for many small communities around the country is just not good right now for the continuation of airline service," Hess says, blaming the dynamics of the airline industry today.

Kinston and Winston-Salem have also lost their airline service in recent weeks.