American Airlines will offer a direct flight from Burlington to New York's LaGuardia Airport beginning on Dec. 15, giving competition to Delta Air Lines, currently the only airline offering that flight.
"It opens up a choice," Airport Director Gene Richards said Wednesday. "I would encourage people to shop and be a good consumer."
An economy flight on Delta to LaGuardia on Dec. 15, returning Dec. 19, was as low as $252 round trip on Wednesday. The lowest roundtrip cost on American Airlines for the same dates was $307. Richards believes the competition between the two airlines will likely drive the price down for the LaGuardia flight.
"Delta is going to want to keep that route for itself," Richards said. "American is saying, 'We want a piece of it.'"
Richards said there was more news from American Airlines: a second daily flight to Charlotte, North Carolina. Richards expects the flight to be popular, as Charlotte is a destination of choice for Vermonters moving south, or simply vacationing. Richards said many ex-IBM employees ended up moving to North Carolina to work in that state's large technology sector.
"It's happening down there," Richards said. "A lot of people migrate from the Vermont area."
Another advantage of the second Charlotte flight is that it will leave at 8 a.m. and arrive at 10:30 a.m., making connections to anywhere else easier. Charlotte is American Airline's largest hub in the nation, Richards said. For those returning the same day, they can be back in Burlington by 8 p.m.
Richards said the Charlotte flight load is around 92 percent, "which is just amazing."
Burlington International Airport is currently served by six airlines — Allegiant, American, Delta, Jet Blue, Porter and United — which among them offer nonstop service to Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports in New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Dulles and National airports in Washington, D.C.
"That's amazing service for a community our size," Richards said. "As I tell people, you can get anywhere in the world today."
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