Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) Executive Director and CEO Virginia Buckingham met with business leaders from the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce today to update members on progress made at Worcester Regional Airport. Buckingham touted the new American Eagle service to Chicago set to start in July and asked the members to try Worcester Airport first for business travel.
"Massport has worked hard to bring viable service back to Worcester Regional Airport. We now have direct service to the top four travel destinations for local travelers," said Buckingham. "For these flights and the airport to be successful, we need the support of the Central Massachusetts business community."
Buckingham cited city, state and federal support that has allowed a number of critical infrastructure projects to move forward and make Worcester more viable for increased commercial service, including:
$16 million terminal - completed
$200,000 for jetway rehabilitation - completed
$5.5 million for runway improvements - to be completed by end of month
$400,000 for parking improvements - to be completed by end of month
$1.2 million for taxiway improvements - to be completed by year end
In addition, Massport is about to embark on a $600,000 master plan project that will focus on near- and short-term facility needs, vehicular and aircraft parking, cargo facilities, runway and taxiway improvements, terminal improvements, fueling needs development and ground transportation planning.
It is estimated that the 16 largest area companies spend $86 million annually on business travel. Massport seeks to leverage that buying power into full flights and increased service.
"We will continue to work to bring new, competitively priced service to Worcester," said Buckingham. "But we will also focus our efforts on the business community here in Central Massachusetts. We want to make sure the airport can meet your businesses needs and that you will think of Worcester first for business travel."
Service to Chicago will begin July 1 when American Eagle will offer two daily round-trip flights with 37-seat Embraer-135 regional jets. The new flights will be the only non-stop service between Worcester and the
Chicago area and will allow Worcester passengers to connect at O'Hare to Americans more than 500 daily departures to 107 destinations.
Massport took over operation of Worcester Regional Airport on January 15, 2000 under an agreement aimed at reviving the underutilized facility. 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.
As a result of these efforts, the number of passengers using Worcester Regional Airport more than doubled during the first year Massport has been operating the airport. Massport has enticed three new airlines to begin using Worcester over the last year: Delta ASA, American Eagle and Pan Am. With this new service, the airport now has direct service to the Worcester regions top four destinations: Orlando, Chicago, New York and Atlanta. Delta ASA is scheduled to begin a third daily flight to Atlanta in April and Pan Am will add on connecting service to San Juan in May.
Current estimates are that with increased service and improved access, Worcester Airport can handle as many as 600,000-800,000 passengers per year.
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.