Nearly five-and-a-half years since the last regularly scheduled passenger flight left the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, community leaders are asking the federal government to help restore passenger air service.

An application filed with the Department of Transportation seeks a $500,000 grant from the Small Community Air Service Development Program to help lure a carrier that would provide at least six flights per week between Youngstown and O’Hare Airport in Chicago providing year-round connections to domestic and international air service on airlines such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, or United Airlines. The application says hubs other than O'Hare would also be considered.

The federal grant would be matched with $500,000 from JobsOhio and the Western Reserve Port Authority, as well as another $100,000 investment in marketing support from Youngstown-Warren Development Partners, plus the waiver of airport operating fees, including landing fees and terminal rent, valued at another $312,000. The total amount used to lure a carrier would amount to $1,412,000 over two years.

Claiming that the elimination of small regional jet and turboprop aircraft from the U.S. commercial service fleet, the Port Authority application says small markets such as Youngstown have been disproportionately disadvantaged by industry trends that favor large and medium-sized markets capable of sustaining service on larger aircraft.

With a population of 637,964 residents in Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana Counties in Ohio and Mercer County in Pennsylvania, the Youngstown-Warren market is the largest combined statistical area in the United States without passenger air service, according to the grant application.

The nearest airport is Akron-Canton Airport, 65 miles from Youngstown-Warren Regional, requiring over an hour of driving for most residents and visitors.

According to a 2022 study, approximately 84% of Valley travelers fly out of Pittsburgh or Cleveland.

Although the port authority says it is still pursuing non-stop service to Florida, the grant application is aimed at serving “a broad segment of the traveling public, including businesses, educational institutions, and other enterprises, whose access to the national air transportation system is limited.”

Citing economic investments such as the Foxconn plant in Lordstown in recent years, the authority says the principal need is to reestablish air service with the ability to facilitate commerce within and beyond the market on behalf of the region’s economy.

Instead of pursuing a traditional regional carrier for regular local air service, the Port Authority is seeking a charter airline that typically offers short-haul service between small markets and network hubs using multi-engine aircraft limited to 30 or fewer seats without relying on leisure travel.

Based on an analysis, potential passenger traffic between Chicago and Youngstown is estimated at between 211 and 303 visitors per day each way depending on the month.

Several charter carriers already fly in and out of O’Hare Airport, including Contour Airlines, Southern Airways Express, and Cape Air making connections with major airlines.

Several air carriers have served the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. Scheduled network service ended in 2002 with Northwest Airline’s discontinuation of regional service to Detroit.

Youngstown remained unserved until 2006, when Allegiant Air began twice weekly service to Orlando-Sanford International Airport. From 2013 through 2017, Allegiant expanded YNG local service to include non-stop flights from to Punta Gorda, Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, and Myrtle Beach, South Carlolina.

Allegiant ended passenger air service at Youngstown-Warren Regional on January 4th, 2018.