ITHACA, N.Y. — American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL) announced that it will offer a direct flight from the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport to American’s hub at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.
The new service is scheduled to begin Dec. 22, Mike Hall, director of the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, said in a news release.
“It’s important to note the new service will start with just one Saturday flight a week, and current service through Philadelphia will not change,” Hall added. “Further Charlotte service could be considered in the future if the new flight demonstrates sufficient passenger demand.”
This new flight from Ithaca didn’t require any financial incentive to the airline, Hall told BJNN in a Thursday phone interview.
When asked if the upcoming $22 million renovation and expansion project at the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport was a factor in American Airlines’ decision to add the service, Hall said he thinks it is “part of it.”
Hall also contends the “steady” economy in Tompkins County is a “big part of it, too.”
He noted that about 15,000 people drive to Tompkins County for work and then drive home to spend the money in counties that “aren’t as fortunate” as Tompkins.
“It makes some sense to invest here and the investment needs to be globally focused because we are very much a global community here in Tompkins,” says Hall, noting the area is home to Cornell University.
The added flight to American’s second largest hub will depart Ithaca on Saturdays at 11:42 a.m. and arrive in Charlotte at 1:47 p.m. Travelers can begin booking flights for the new service this Saturday, per the release. The flight from Charlotte will depart at 9:25 a.m. with an 11:12 a.m. arrival time in Ithaca.
The announcement of the Ithaca-to-Charlotte service follows the recent declaration from United Airlines (NYSE: UAL) that it will replace its Ithaca-to-Newark service with direct flights to Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., effective Oct. 4.
For Upstate airports, Newark is a “challenging” destination for reliable service, Hall told BJNN.
In bad weather on the East Coast, Hall explained, Newark’s capacity decreases, creating a backup, and flights to upstate New York are the first ones canceled as larger flights from Los Angeles are airborne. Hall believes United addressed the issue with the switch to Washington, D.C.
“Washington’s also a destination. Newark’s not so much of a destination,” says Hall.
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