Sunday, August 27, 2017

Niagara Falls International Airport (KIAG), New York: Additional airlines not in foreseeable future




It is an emerging part of the tourism transportation system in the Falls, but the continuing growth of operations at the Niagara Falls International Airport will depend largely on the business plans of the airlines that currently service the facility. 

That's the opinion of the folks who are charged with overseeing the airport and growing and marketing the services there.

"The most logical growth is in the carriers that are there now," said Pascal Cohen, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s manager of aviation business development. "They understand the market best."

And that market, according to Cohen, is tourism. 

"Business travelers are going to use the Buffalo airport," he said. "Niagara Falls is a tourist market, not a business market."

That sentiment is shared by the folks who are charged with bringing tourists to town. Destination Niagara USA president and CEO John Percy believes the local airport is well suited for tourists.

"I think it's a perfect match," he said. "The airlines providing service there are leisure-based and we are a leisure destination."

Percy also noted that the two airlines flying out of the airport, Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Airlines, carry loads of passengers to primarily Florida destinations. That has led Destination Niagara to step up marketing in the Sunshine State. 

"We launched a Florida marketing initiative," Percy said, "and (Florida) has now become one of our top five states for in-bound passengers."

Cohen said there are no other airlines immediately on the horizon that seem likely to locate to the Falls airport. He noted that Spirit and Allegiant are two of the best tourist-focused carriers in the airline industry.

"No one wants to compete with Spirit and Allegiant," he said 

Though Cohen did note that both airlines are expanding their fleets and that could bring additional flights here. 

"As the tourism market improves (in the Falls) and as the attractions improve, we'll see in-bound (passenger levels) improve," Cohen said. 

Percy said his agency will do it's best to bring people here.

"There's been a steady increase (in passenger use of the new terminal that opened in 2009)," Percy said. "It's been a collaborative effort, working with the airport and the airlines, to help them be as successful as they can be."

While the Falls airport was once a popular place for charter flights, Cohen said the segment of the airline business is in decline.

"Charter worked really well years ago," he said. "But now, charters just aren't that popular."

William Vanecek, aviation director of the NFTA, said the Falls airport continues to enjoy steady growth in both both in-bound and out-bound passengers,

"We've had 1.5 million passengers through the doors (since the new terminal opened)," Vanecek said.

Original article ➤ http://www.niagara-gazette.com

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