The numbers continue to tell the story at Worcester Regional Airport. With direct service to New York, Philadelphia, Orlando, Atlanta, and as of July, Chicago, Worcester Regional Airport (WRA) handled more than 80,000 passengers through July as compared to 53,100 during the same period in 2000, a 51% increase. During the month of July alone, WRA handled 16, 278 passengers making it the busiest month since Massport began operating the airport.
"Travelers from Central Massachusetts now have a real alternative to Logan whether they are flying for business or pleasure," said Massport Executive Director and CEO Virginia Buckingham. "With direct service to hub airports in Atlanta, Chicago and New York, travelers can make easy connections to hundreds of destinations across the country and around the world."
The newest service at WRA, American Eagle's two daily roundtrip flights to Chicago O'Hare, began July 5. The new flights are the only non-stop service between Worcester and the Chicago area and allow Worcester passengers to connect at O'Hare to American's more than 500 daily departures to 107 destinations. American Eagle is operating two daily round-trip flights with 37-seat Embraer-135 regional jets. During the first moth of operation, American Eagle flights to Chicago had a 70% load factor.
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 WRA as an option. Massport is also targeting marketing efforts to support the existing airlines providing service at WRA and encourage local companies to use WRA for business travel.
As a result of these efforts, the number of passengers using WRA more than doubled in 2000. In the first year alone Massport enticed three new airlines to begin service from Worcester: Delta ASA, American Eagle and Pan Am. This year, Delta ASA added a another daily flight to Atlanta, Pan Am added connecting service to San Juan and American Eagle added the Chicago service. 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.