Another major milestone in the revitalization of Worcester Regional Airport was achieved today as Massport Executive Director and CEO Virginia Buckingham announced that Pan American Airways will provide daily non-stop jet service from Worcester Airport to Orlando Sanford Airport in Florida, beginning in February. The announcement comes on the heels of news that Worcester Airport has reached the 100,000-passenger mark for 2000, the first time the airport has handled this many passengers in six years years. Buckingham was joined at the event by Governor Paul Cellucci, Lt. Governor Jane Swift, Worcester City Manager Thomas Hoover, New England Council President James Brett and Pan Am President Dave Fink.
Massport has aggressively marketed Worcester Regional Airport to the airlines and has developed innovative marketing and advertising programs to encourage local residents to use the airport. In marketing Worcester Airport, Massport is building on the success seen at regional airports in Manchester and Providence. While regional airports are booming, Logan’s growth has declined to about two percent a year.
“Expanding Worcester Airport is a critical component of our regional air transportation plan,” said Governor Paul Cellucci. “Worcester has the potential to serve as a gateway to the entire region and the world.”
“This is another win in the effort to regionalize air traffic and reduce the burden on Logan,” said Massport Executive Director and CEO Virginia Buckingham. “Massport is working hard to bring new airlines to this underutilized facility in Central Massachusetts.”
The non-stop Pan Am flights will be operated with 727 jets with 149 seats (64 seat shave been removed) giving passengers leg-room comparable with First Class seating. From Sanford, travelers will be able to make easy connections to the many tourist attractions in the Greater Orlando area.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy said, “It’s a solid vote of confidence by Pan Am in Worcester. The round-trip service to Orlando is a real commitment to Worcester Regional Airport and Central Massachusetts. This is good news not only for the local economy, but for consumers. Passengers who fly Pan Am will have access to connecting flights across the country. Businesses and residents throughout the area deserve high-quality, convenient service, and I am confident the Pan American will provide it.”
Located just 30 minutes from downtown Orlando and 35 minutes from Disneyworld, flying from Worcester to Sanford provides a convenient and inexpensive alternative to flying Logan to Orlando-McCoy Airport. Pan Am fares to Sanford will be competitive with fares from Logan to Orlando. Most important, parking at Worcester is only $7 a day/ $42 a weeks as compared with $18 a day/ $70 a week at Logan
Orlando is the third most popular destination for travelers in the Worcester area and the number one destination for leisure travelers. The American Society of Travel Agents consistently ranks Orlando as the top destination in the country. Last year, more than 547,000 people for Massachusetts traveled to Orlando. Logan operates about 28 flights a day to and from Orlando.
“I’m very pleased that Pan Am has decided to establish direct flights between Worcester and Orlando,” Congressman McGovern said. “I’ve always believed that Florida could be a lucrative destination for airlines looking to serve Central Massachusetts, especially when those airlines provide direct flights and competitive fares. With air travel increasing nationwide and throughout New England, Worcester Airport is a critical component of smart and successful regionalization. I want to thank Virginia Buckingham and everyone at Massport for their commitment to making the airport a first-class, economically viable facility.”
Current estimates are that with increased service and improved access, Worcester Airport could handle as many as 600,000-800,000 passengers per year. Since Massport begin operating Worcester last January three new airlines have entered the market and the number of passengers using Worcester has more than doubled.
“This past year has proven that if you give people the right service at the right price they will come back to Worcester Airport,” said Buckingham.
The revitalization of Worcester Airport is a key component of the state's regional aviation strategy, which includes improving ground access to nearby Manchester Airport and T.F. Green in Providence, both among the fastest growing regional airports in the country.