02.10.14

SCHUMER URGES JETBLUE TO ESTABLISH FIRST-EVER SERVICE TO ALBANY INTL AIRPORT SENATOR JUST HELPED ENSURE JETBLUE COULD SECURE NEW FLIGHT SLOTS

brSchumer Urges JetBlue to Establish First-Ever Presence at Albany Intl Airport Standing at Airport, Schumer Unveiled Stats to Demonstrate Clear Need for Another Low Cost Carrier in Capital RegionbrbrbrIn Recent U.S. Airways American Airlines Merger, Schumer Was Early Advocate for Slot Divestiture, Which Helped Ensure JetBlue Received Fair Number of Divested SlotsbrbrbrSchumer Has Long History of Bringing New Airlines Routes to Upstate New York, Including Southwest to Albany JetBlue to Buffa

Today at the Albany International Airport, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer joined airport and local officials to urge that JetBlue Airlines to establish a firstever presence in the Capital Region, which would boost competition and availability of lowcost flights from Albany to popular JetBlue destinations. Senator Schumer was an early advocate of slot divestiture in the recent U.S. AirwaysAmerican Airlines merger in order to increase competition and provide new opportunities for low cost carriers, like JetBlue. As a result, JetBlue received a significant number of flight slots that were divested from U.S. Airways & American Airlines in their recent merger, and urged that JetBlue increase flights to Albany as a result. Schumer unveiled statistics that demonstrate the clear need for a new lowcost carrier to fly in and out of Albany International as he urged JetBlue to heed his call. Schumer did not specify particular routes for JetBlue to consider, but noted Albany's popular routes to DCA and to destinations in Florida as potential options. Once JetBlue establishes a presence in Albany, Schumer is confident that they will expand further. 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, Syracuse and Rochester.

 

"JetBlue setting up shop for the first time at Albany International would clearly benefit both JetBlue and the residents and businesses of the Capital Region," said Schumer. "Demand is up at Albany International, and the airport serves a growing population and a growing economy, so now is the time for airlines to jump in and take advantage of that need for service. JetBlue flights from Albany would make traveling to major hub airports more expedient and affordable for those that are already in the Capital Region, and add to the region's ability to attract new businesses and vacationers."

 

Schumer added, "I believe JetBlue landing at Albany International would increase competitiveness at the airport and drive down prices.  They have a proven track record of offering affordable service in New York and if they expand to Albany, they would solidify themselves as one of New York's leading airlines."

 

Albany International Airport is currently serviced primarily by Southwest Airlines. While the airport has 56 daily departures, prices have risen dramatically over recent years, while the Capital Region economy has grown in recent years. According to Albany International Airport officials:

·         620,000 residents live within a 30minue drive of Albany International and 1.2 million live within an hour's drive;

·         Albany International services approximately 1.215 million departing passengers a year;

·         The population of the Albany/Schenectady/Troy has increased by 33,000 since 2000, but overall seating capacity at Albany is down 18.5% since 2008;

·         Syracuse and Buffalo have more airline seating capacity perresident than Albany.


Schumer argued that these opposite trends have driven up demand at Albany and led to fare increases; all domestic fares are up 27% since 2008.  Southwest Airlines, in particular, has raised its fares 66% since 2004.  Schumer said that introducing a new airline and more flights at Albany would increase competitiveness and help drive down prices for all customers.      

 

With the growth of the nanotech industry - specifically chip fab - in the Capital Region, the economy is stable and median incomes are high.  These factors mean Albanyarea residents can afford traveling and would welcome new routes at their local airport.  Schumer said that expanding service at Albany International could help attract new companies to the region and further spur the Capital Region's growing tourism industry. Schumer explained that any increase in tourism has a ripple effect, boosting local restaurants, hotels, shops and much more.  The more people coming to Albany, whether they are coming to for business, or to visit family and friends, or Saratoga Race Course, or the Adirondacks for recreation, pumps more money into the local economy and further supports jobs in the tourism industry.

 

In a Senate Judiciary Hearing in which Doug Parker, the CEO of U.S. Airways was a witness, and in a personal meeting with the CEO, Senator Schumer personally urged that slots be divested in the AmericanU.S. Airways merger in order to help ensure competitiveness and that lowcost carriers like JetBlue were able to secure slots at DCA. JetBlue received 12 slots as part of the divestiture resulting from the U.S. Airways - American merger, which needs Department of Justice approval.

 

Schumer, who has worked closely with JetBlue in the past, has been instrumental in bringing quality air service to the Upstate New York. Due to the immense success of the airline's arrival in Buffalo, Schumer worked with JetBlue to bring the airline to the Rochester and Syracuse markets as well. The Senator is confident that bringing JetBlue to Albany would be just as successful, and has asked the airline to consider Albany for new routes.

 

Schumer was joined by John O'Donnell, Airport Director; Dan McCoy, Albany County Executive; Paula Mahan, Colonie Town Supervisor; Mark Eagan, AlbanyColonie Chamber of Commerce; and Mike Tucker, Center for Economic Growth.



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