Efforts to relieve the burden on Logan Airport through regionalization took a big step forward today when American Eagle Airlines announced that it will start non-stop service between Worcester and New York's Kennedy International Airport on July 6. "Expanding Worcester Airport is a critical component of our plan to improve transportation in Massachusetts and throughout New England," said Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci. "The decision by American Eagle to offer non-stop service to New York’s Kennedy Airport will help us meet our goal of making Worcester Airport a full-service airport as well as a gateway to the region and the entire world." "I commend American Eagle for initiating this service," said Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy. "It’s a significant development for Worcester and the entire region. Passengers will have convenient access to connecting flights across the country and around the world." American Eagle will offer three daily round-trip flights with 34-seat Saab 340B turboprop aircraft. The new flights will be the only non-stop service between Worcester and the New York area and will allow Worcester passengers to connect at JFK to American Airlines’ transcontinental flights to cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris and Frankfurt. "Starting in July, travelers from Central Massachusetts will have an alternative to Logan when flying to New York for a business trip or a family vacation," said Massport CEO and Executive Director Virginia Buckingham. "Logan’s busiest market is Boston to New York, so this goes a long way towards reducing our dependence on Logan Airport and spreading air traffic throughout New England." 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.