Friday, June 23, 2017

Albany International Airport (KALB), Colonie, New York: A faster way to get to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

One Jet Air CEO Matt McGuire speaks at the Albany International Airport and discusses this business plan for the air carrier and their flight schedule Friday June 23, 2017 at Colonie, New York.

The first One Jet Air flight arrives at the Albany International Airport and is assisted in parking on the ramp Friday June 23, 2017 at Colonie, New York.

It'll be 10 years on Aug. 1st since US Airways quietly dropped its last nonstop flight between Albany and Pittsburgh.

But on Wednesday, OneJet, using seven-passenger aircraft that look more like corporate business jets, will restore nonstop flights, making two daily round-trips.

Albany is the seventh city that OneJet will serve from Pittsburgh, said Matthew R. Maguire, the carrier's CEO, who was on hand Friday morning for a press conference and a chance to show off the Beechjet Hawker 400XP that will serve the route.

"Thirty people a day travel each direction" between the two cities by air, Maguire said, spending as much as four or five hours flying through connecting cities.

A check of American Airlines service from Albany to Pittsburgh on June 28 showed numerous choices, all involving at least one stop. The shortest travel time was three hours and 22 minutes, compared to about an hour for the nonstop OneJet flight. All the other alternatives were four hours or more.

US Airways is now American, following a merger between the two carriers.

The OneJet seats are more spacious than the traditional airline economy-class seat. While there's a lavatory onboard, it's a bit cramped and crew advises people use restrooms at the airport.

Wifi and snacks are available on the flight. The cabin has two sets of seats facing each other over a table, plus three additional seats. 

The jet can cruise at 500 mph at altitudes up to 38,000 feet, said Chris Obersteiner, who along with Gus Bird ("great name for a pilot," Obersteiner observed) flew the plane to Albany International Airport, where it was greeted with a ceremonial arch of water by airport firetrucks.

Introductory air fares are $202 one-way, and with morning and evening departures and returns, the schedule will be convenient for business travelers, said airport CEO John O'Donnell.

Maguire said that routes such as ALB-PIT have opened up as major carriers continue to consolidate and eliminate nonstops connecting mid-size cities that are 500 to 700 miles apart.

And that, he said, presents opportunities for OneJet.

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