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Schumer To Delta: Don't Give Up On Elmira-Corning, Bring Service To Southern Tier

In attempt to reassure airline during financial difficulties, Senator says adding affordable air transportation to the region is a win-win proposition -- Southern Tier reaps economic benefits and Delta gets added business

Schumer brought JetBlue to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse; Those flights have been so successful that additional flights have been scheduled

In an attempt to reassure the financially struggling airline, US Senator Charles Schumer today urged Delta Air Lines to bring its air service to the ElmiraCorning Regional Airport in New York. Schumer, who successfully brought JetBlue to upstate New York, said adding the flights would not only offer residents greater travel options and provide businesses incentives to locate in the Southern Tier, but it could provide Delta with potential for new growth.

"Bringing Delta's service to ElmiraCorning would be a winwin for both the Southern Tier and Delta," Schumer said. "Southern Tier residents would get a real boost in their air travel options, and Delta would open itself to a whole new market. It's a known fact that people in the area have been going to other airports for connections throughout the country, so we know that the demand for more options at ElmiraCorning is strong. I urge Delta to bring its service here and we'll fight tooth and nail to help make it happen."

Currently, the ElmiraCorning Regional Airport provides only thirteen daily flights and customers are often forced to travel hours away to access the air travel their businesses require. A new study done by Edwards and Kelcey, Inc. shows that 48 percent of air travelers in the ElmiraCorning area utilize other airports that are able to provide connections throughout the country. In addition, the potential for successful expansion at the ElmiraCorning Regional Airport has been nationally recognized. Last year, the airport received a $200,000 Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to market the airport, making it the only airport in New York State to receive such funds.

Schumer today urged Delta Airlines CEO Gerald Grinstein to bring service to ElmiraCorning, saying that local businesses would jump at the opportunity to fly throughout the country and that additional service can be a spark that will help ignite the Southern Tiers stalled economic engine. In addition, Schumer explained, it could provide the struggling airline with a new market and potential for strong profit.

"I frequently hear from businesses about the difficulty in attempting to obtain flights directly to certain areas in our state. This connection will make a world of difference to local businesses not only in Chemung County, but would include companies in surrounding communities, as well," Schumer wrote in a letter today to Mr. Grinstein.

"The service would boost the local economy by allowing more businesses to enter the area, increasing business at the airport, and increasing fuel sales there. The bottom line is that firstrate airports are necessary to both attract new carriers and to allow those carriers to remain competitive."

Since becoming Senator in 1999, Schumer has worked to improve the quality and availability of air service in upstate New York. In addition to bringing JetBlue to Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester, he delivered Southwest to Albany. Both carriers are experiencing great success in their new markets.

According to DOT data, six months after JetBlue arrived in Buffalo, the average round trip fare to New York City's John F. Kennedy airport decreased by 58%, from $330 to $138. By June 2000, JetBlue had captured 33% of the market for travel between Buffalo and the New York City. Schumer, who helped bring Southwest to Buffalo and Albany, noted that the low cost carrier had also contributed to the reduced fares.

In Rochester, JetBlue gained a 10% share of passenger traffic at Greater Rochester International Airport in just six months of operation and airport officials estimate that the lowcost carrier helped attract tens of thousands of travelers, reaching about 13,000 in December.