The Cellucci-Swift Administration's efforts to relieve the burden on Logan Airport through regionalization took a big step forward today when Atlantic SOUTHEAST Airlines (ASA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, inaugurated twice-daily service to Atlanta from Worcester Regional Airport.
"Starting on February 1, travelers from Central Massachusetts have an alternative to Logan when flying out on a business trip or planning a family vacation," said Massport CEO and Executive Director Virginia Buckingham. "Massport is creating a regional air transportation system that can efficiently and safely meet the needs of the traveling public and help reduce our dependence on Logan Airport."
As of today, ASA is offering daily nonstop jet service between Worcester and Atlanta aboard Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) aircraft. Flights are scheduled to depart Worcester for Atlanta at 7:40 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Flights from Atlanta to Worcester will depart at 12:30 p.m. and 7:25 p.m. Travelers from Central Massachusetts and the Metro West region now have direct jet access to Atlanta, the world's largest single-airline hub. From there, Delta and the Delta Connection offer more than 800 daily departures to more than 200 destinations across the globe.
Massport took over operation of Worcester Regional Airport on January 15, 2000 under an agreement aimed at reviving the underutilized facility. Currently, Massport is in discussions with several airlines regarding additional service at Worcester Airport. The authority is marketing the regional airport and meeting with the representatives of airlines operating out of Logan to highlight Worcester Airport as an option.
Worcester Airport has tremendous untapped potential with nearly 1 million people in the market area who generate approximately 2 million air trips per year. In 1999, the airport served fewer than 50,000 passengers - less than 3 percent of the region's demand for air service. In the late 1980's, the airport handled more than 360,000 passengers per year with daily service to five markets. Current estimates predict that with increased service and improved access, Worcester Airport could handle between 600,000 to 800,000 passengers per year. Feasible routes identified by Massport include flights from Worcester to New York, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, and Orlando.
Massport plans to build on the success seen at regional airports in Manchester and Providence - the two fastest growing airports in the nation in 1997 and 1998 - which have grown at about 40 percent. While regional airports are booming, Logan's growth has declined to about two percent a year. Increased service at Worcester and a new runway at Logan, will improve the efficiency of New England's regional transportation system.