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Until Now, There Were No Direct Flights From Buffalo to Anywhere in California – Schumer Has Been Pushing for Direct JetBlue Flight to LA Basin Since 2013; Now, New Route Will Dramatically Increase Travel Opportunities for Buffalonians, Boost Buffalo Business Travel

Schumer Says Move Will Help JetBlue Capture More Canadian Travelers – High Prices at Toronto Airport Have Customers Flying Through Buffalo For Cheap Rates to Some Destinations, But Not When Headed to California

Schumer: JetBlue Flights From Buffalo to LA Are Now Cleared for Takeoff!

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that JetBlue will begin its long-awaited service out of the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport on June 16, 2016, with direct flights to the Los Angeles International Airport. Schumer said this will be the first direct flight from Buffalo to any point in California. Schumer said adding this direct flight has been a top priority for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), Buffalo businesses, hotels and the local tourism industry. In addition to the obvious benefits of such a route for Buffalo’s local travelers and the economy as a whole, Schumer and the NFTA said these new flights would also benefit JetBlue, by helping to attract additional Canadian passengers to Buffalo rather than the Toronto Pearson Airport, which is already known for its high ticket prices and long wait times. This influx of Canadian passengers will also benefit the entire region by supporting hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls that directly benefit from Canadian visitors.

Schumer was an early advocate and pushed hard to bring JetBlue service from Buffalo to LA since 2013. In flights to Orlando, Boston, Atlanta and Tampa, the Buffalo Airport has captured many more flyers than the Toronto Airport. However, for flights to and from California, the Buffalo Airport was previously unable to attract Canadian customers because there no direct flights existed. Schumer therefore called this a huge victory for the region.

“In 2013, I asked JetBlue to add this flight, knowing it would be a game changer for regional tourism in Western New York, and I am now thrilled the airline has heeded our call. As New York’s Hometown Airline, JetBlue continues to grow its presence and service within New York State, and I appreciate their commitment to this region,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “The addition of this flight will not only dramatically increase travel options for Buffalonians, it will also bring even more Canadian travelers through the Buffalo Niagara International airport. Western NY residents will have access to new, low-cost carrier flying in and out of their local airport. Buffalo will become a ‘welcome mat’ for visitors from LA and travelers from Canada, who will enjoy our top notch restaurants, hotels, and other tourist attractions during their trip.”

In May 2013, Schumer visited Western New York to make his case to JetBlue. During his visit, he urged the company to meet with the NFTA in order to map out the plan for a direct Buffalo flight to one of the three airports they service in the LA Basin - Los Angeles International (LAX), Long Beach Municipal (LGB), or Hollywood-Burbank (BUR). Schumer said making this service a reality would increase flight options for Buffalo travelers, as well as attract additional leisure and business visitors to Buffalo’s hotels, restaurants, businesses, and serve as an additional resource to use when attracting new companies to the Buffalo area.

“It’s a terrific day for both Buffalo and JetBlue,” said Robin Hayes president and CEO, JetBlue. “This month we're celebrating the 16th anniversary of JetBlue's arrival in Upstate New York and we could not be more delighted to do so by connecting our inaugural JetBlue city to the West Coast with a nonstop flight. As New York's Hometown Airline, we are thrilled to continue growing across the Empire State.” 

Howard A. Zemsky NFTA Chairman said, “Everyone at the NFTA is extremely pleased that Jet Blue will be commencing nonstop service to Los Angeles in June. I want to thank Senator Schumer once again for his unwavering determination on behalf of our airport. He has been there time after time, fighting for causes that benefit our airport and this is yet another example of his commitment to the citizens of Buffalo Niagara.”  

“This new service represents the first time the BNIA has had nonstop service to the West Coast. I am confident that these flights will be popular not only for people in western New York, but also very attractive to the thousands of Canadian customers that use the BNIA each month,” said William R. Vanecek, the airport’s Director of Aviation. “We are grateful for Senator Schumer's continued advocacy on behalf of the BNIA and the entire Buffalo Niagara Region.”

In his announcement today, Schumer highlighted a number of reasons why this direct flight from Buffalo to LA will now have the potential to draw more passengers. Until now, there were no direct flights from Buffalo Niagara International Airport to any location in California. Los Angeles is the largest market and the most frequent destination for travelers from Buffalo that does not already have a direct flight. And vice versa, Buffalo is the second largest eastern market that does not already have a direct flight from Los Angeles. Schumer also noted that, as of 2013, Canadian travelers from Buffalo Niagara International have increased 20 percent over the past 6 years, and a direct flight to LA would build on that trend.

Schumer said that 80 percent of travelers from Toronto to LA travel non-stop, despite the fact that Buffalo could offer the same service to LA for almost $100 less, but with multiple stops. This demonstrates the value of a non-stop flight. In addition, the wait time at Toronto Pearson International Airport could be as high as 3 hours, while at Buffalo Niagara International the average peak wait time is only 12 minutes. Schumer said that because of the high fees and gridlock at Toronto International, the only thing holding customers back from flying to LA out of Buffalo was this lack of a non-stop flight.

As of 2013, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the addition of non-stop routes from Buffalo to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Fort Lauderdale increased traffic to those destinations by 68 percent, 66 percent and 32 percent respectively. Additionally, in 2012 Buffalo drew nearly half of its passengers, 47 percent, from Ontario. Schumer said that JetBlue should seize the opportunity to attract more Canadian customers by adding this non-stop flight.

Schumer said bringing in new customers to Buffalo Niagara International will be a boon to the airport, JetBlue, and the regional economy. The Buffalo – Niagara Region is home to nearly 10 million residents in New York and Ontario and is a huge tourist destination. Niagara Falls, nearby casinos, and the nation’s second largest wine region bring tourists from all over the world to Buffalo Niagara International. For this reason, Schumer has long been an advocate of laying out a ‘welcome mat’ for Los Angeles and Canadian visitors with a direct flight each way to one of the most popular destinations.

In addition, there will be considerable spin-off advantages for the Western New York region for having such a flight. Canadian tourists flying through Buffalo frequently visit hotels, restaurants, and go shopping in the region as part of their visit. Schumer said this direct flight to LA will be an effective tool for bringing new companies to region and for helping existing companies with ties to California grow.

Schumer, has been instrumental in bringing affordable and frequent air service to the Western New York region and to all of Upstate New York. At Schumer’s urging, JetBlue met with Buffalo officials in August of 1999 and began providing reliable, quality flights to Western New York in February of 2000. Schumer has long fought to bring new airlines and routes to Upstate New York cities, including helping to bring Southwest to Albany and JetBlue to Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse and Rochester.