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More NYC flights from Delta creates upstate winners and losers

Zack Seward
Delta's gates at Greater Rochester International. The carrier is adding four daily flights from Rochester to New York's LaGuardia Airport.

When Delta Air Lines and U.S. Airways agreed to swap gates last May, early word was that many upstate air travelers were in for an upgrade.

Starting Sunday, Delta will offer four new daily flights from Rochester to New York's LaGuardia. Delta says other upstate airports are in for the same.

"Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo," said Delta's Jim Van Woert. "Pretty much the same type schedules - four dailies into LaGuardia, all keeping their Kennedy connection service as well."

For frequent travelers to New York City, the move means Delta jet service from Rochester to LaGuardia will likely replace the U.S. Airways turboprop flights currently offered to LGA.

In Rochester, the swap represents a net gain in daily seats to LaGuardia, according to airport officials.

Other upstate cities, however, might not be so lucky.

Winners and losers

An airline analyst quoted by Reuters says Albany and Ithaca are among the biggest losers of Delta and U.S. Airways' nationwide gate swap.

Meanwhile, Buffalo airport officials are praising the move.

Delta's Van Woert said Tuesday it's too early to tell how the added flights will affect air fares.

According to officials at Greater Rochester International, one-quarter of all passengers flying out of Rochester already fly on Delta.

Ripple effect

Van Woert says the added upstate flights stem from a $1.3 billion upgrade to Delta's downstate operations.

"We've done tremendous expansions in New York City," said Van Woert, "and this service up here is just kind of an offshoot of that expansion."

At Tuesday's airport announcement, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks welcomed the news.

"Delta certainly understands that they play a critical role in our ability to move people where they need to go throughout the country," said Brooks.

Brooks says a strong airport is especially important for the local business community. Delta's dual-class, WiFi-enabled flights are scheduled to cater to business travelers.

"Having a viable airport, a competitive airport really is critical to bringing businesses and opportunity and visitors to our community," Brooks said.

WXXI/Finger Lakes reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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