Flying out of Charleston? American Airlines replacing turboprop airplanes with regional jets, adding 3,600 seats

American Airlines is replacing its 37-seat turboprop airplane with a 50-seat regional jet at Charleston’s Yeager Airport starting in June.

The planes will be replaced during the period of June 2 to Aug. 21 and will lead to an addition of 3,600 total seats during that time period, according to a news release from the airport.

Yeager Airport Executive Director Terry Sayre said the airport could keep the service if it can support it.

“If we’re able to demonstrate that we can support this jet service and American Airlines keeps them operating at Yeager, this will result in approximately 28,000 more available seats in 2018 over 2016,” Sayre said in the release. “More seats equals more passengers and more revenue for the airport and for our community.”

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said the change was a “game changer.”

“Regional Jets not only offer more seats, but they are a huge step up in comfort, convenience and reliability,” Carper said.

Sayre thanked U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for setting up a meeting between Yeager Airport and American Airlines in late 2016. Sayre also thanked Ted Lawson of National Travel for his help with the American Airlines sales department.

The release said Yeager increased passenger boardings in every month of the first quarter of 2017 and in five of the last seven months overall. The airport had not seen an increase like that since early 2012, the release said.