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Delta began offering nonstop weekday flights to New York last summer, but demand is wanting.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Business and pleasure travelers of the Roanoke Valley, grab your laptops, neck pillows and 3-ounce bottles of contact lens fluid, and head for the Roanoke Regional Airport.
Delta Air Lines is warning that it could halt nonstop weekday flights to New York if it can’t sell more tickets for its 50-seat planes out of Roanoke.
“Use it or it may not be there when you want it,” said Joyce Waugh, president of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. “It’s like buying local. Buy local when you can because you’re supporting companies that are here and employ people here in the region. It strengthens the regional economy.”
Delta began offering nonstop flights to the Big Apple last summer after US Airways eliminated its three daily trips. U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte worked to make sure the region still had a direct tie to New York. Some companies are taking advantage of that effort.
“We have a lot of management meetings in New York City, and that direct access is very important to us,” said Paul Anderson of AECOM. “It is also important for economic development: If a company is considering moving to this area, nonstop New York service is a great asset to have.”
Other existing businesses must show their support, too. Delta needs its planes to be at least half full, but flights have averaged just 18 passengers. The fact that airline officials are making an appeal is a sign that they want to be here. Roanokers must make it clear we’re glad they are.
It’s true that the flights are not cheap. Jet service adds to the cost, but also to the convenience for travelers, who should consider all factors when making decisions about vacations and business trips, not just the face value of a ticket. Those who choose to drive to a distant airport must pay for gasoline and parking. Most important, and often forgotten, is the valuable time spent motoring far afield in search of a perceived bargain.
It’s a lesson the Roanoke Valley must learn now, and one to remember as passenger rail service arrives in the region. If Roanokers don’t make air and rail service part of their business model, transportation companies won’t make Roanoke part of their business models, either.
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