Massport will take over operation of Worcester Airport effective January 15, 2000, as part of the Cellucci-Swift Administration’s strategy to create an efficient regional air transportation system and lessen the load on Logan’s neighbors. Massport will run the airport as part of a five year operating agreement and will focus on adding Worcester Airport to the roster of booming regional airports in New England.
“Regional airports are the next logical step in continuing Massachusetts’ economic boom. With the capacity to serve 800,000 passengers annually, Worcester Airport will stimulate economic development to the tune of $200 million throughout the county,” said Massport Executive Director and CEO Virginia Buckingham. “This investment in the people and business community of central Massachusetts will pay off enormous dividends.”
Massport’s move will further reduce passengers’ reliance on Logan Airport and continue to spread the burden of air traffic equitably throughout New England. To ensure that Worcester Airport becomes a viable alternative to Logan Airport, Massport has initiated discussions with several airlines and begun to market the regional facility. An open house will be held at the airport on Wednesday, January 19 starting at 5:00 p.m. to highlight it as an option for commercial air travel.
“This is an important milestone for the airport and the people it serves,” said Worcester City Manager Thomas R. Hoover. “With Massport now in place, we will see more airlines, more destinations, more service and more jobs for our community.”
Massport efforts to boost service have already paid off with a commitment from Delta Air Lines to begin twice-daily jet service from Worcester to Atlanta on February 1, 2000. Atlanta serves as Delta’s hub and offers 650 daily flights to 125 destinations worldwide.
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 regions 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 are growing 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.