In the past week alone, Allegiant has begun service from Newburgh, NY, and Portsmouth, NH, with 4 flights per week effective November 1st with introductory prices as low as $39 one way. I would be very surprised, if we do not see a similar announcement like that within a couple weeks for Worcester, MA. The winter season begins November 1st and Allegiant would need to announce service now for NOvember 1st.
Allegiant Air may not be as large an operation as the rumored DJ Air, but lets keep in mind that DJ Air is most likely two years away from their first flight and is that just that--a rumor. Even if they ever have their first flight and that is a big if, considering 1) 100 million of venture capital needed , 2) current price of fuel and 3) the lack of success by companies like Independence Air, and 4) we may not even be picked pover Trenton or New Haven? Allegiant Air, on the other hand, may not provide the immediate mythical "critical mass", but it can be a great start and help the management of ORH correct the misconceptions of the traveling public in our catchment area.
It took the City of Worcester less then two months to build a ballpark for the Worcester Tornadoes, now we have two months to correct some of the problems at ORH. Specifically,
- Free Wi-Fi in the terminal
- Better signage both two and from the airport
- Advertise the free parking
It is vitally important that someone's first foray back into ORH is enjoyable both from a pricing and amenities standpoint. The last thing we want is for a new traveler out of Worcester to end up lost, circling Kelly Square 2o times.
Allegiant Air will not provide overnight "critical mass", but it can be the first step in resusitating ORH. Look at an airport like Rockford Airport (http://www.rockfordairport.com) who was in a similar situation to ORH, with no commercial service an hour away from Chicago. They started with TransMeridian (http://www.iflytma.com) to Sanford/Orlando then Hooters (http://www.hootersair.com) to Vegas. Both of these flights are similar to the schedule proposed by Allegiant in the NorthEast.
Once Rockford Airport proved to the airlines that they could in fact support these leisure flights to Sanford/Orlando and Vegas, guess what happened? Northwest ,earlier this year, began multiple flights daily to their hub (Detroit) targeting mot only the leisure traveler but the business traveler., who can not survive on the leisurelu schedule of 4 flights per week.
Allegiant Air can be a great first step, but make no mistake about it, this is just a 1st step. Please keep in mind that the 2nd year of the current contract between the City of Worcester only exposes the City of Worcester begins to 15% of the operating deficit. Since the operating deficit is approximately $2,000,000, that means we will have to pay $300,000 or the fiscal year that begins July 1st ofthis year. Next year the City of Worcester will be forced to pay 32% of the entire burden then, July 1, 2007 the entire burden falls on the taxpayers of Worcester.
Keep in mind that this will be based on the current operating deficit, which is estimated at $2,000,000 per year to the taxpayers of the City of Worcester.