Just in time for Yalies looking to make plans for spring break, US Airways confirmed Wednesday that it will dramatically slash its fares on flights to and from New Haven’s Tweed Airport.
At a press conference in the airport’s main terminal, Chris Seaver, the director of corporate affairs for US Airways, laid out the details of the fare reductions, which apply to the 138 destinations that the airline connects to through its Philadelphia hub. Effective immediately, the airline is cutting walk-up fares — the price of tickets bought just before a flight — by as much as 22 percent. Tickets purchased in advance will cost as much as 34 percent less.
The fare reductions follow the airport’s announcement of a new low-fare service to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. on Pan-Am Clipper flights.
Corporate representatives, city government officials and the heads of the airport authority all trumpeted the move as an essential step in the evolution of Tweed and of the New Haven region. Larry DeNardis, chairman of the authority, said the fare reductions are “indispensable to our success” in their efforts to make Tweed more accessible and encourage people in the New Haven region to use the airport. With as many as four million customers a year in the state, he said, there is a very large market for air travel in the Connecticut region.
“This airport needs to be in a good position to serve that market,” he said. “This is one of the most favorable programs of my tenure.”
Currently, Tweed only attracts a fraction of those million potential customers. According to Rick Lamport, the airport manager, only 2,000 to 3,000 people fly to New Haven every month.
Seaver, who called the fares “very competitive” with prices of flights out of nearby airports, said he is optimistic that the reductions will attract more customers who would otherwise use Bradley International Airport and the New York airports. Similar fare reductions at other airports have worked to increase ridership, he said.
“We had an overwhelmingly positive response,” he said.
Anthony Rescigno, the president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, said Tweed’s convenient location and low wait times will help attract businesspeople as its service expands.
“You can get here literally 15 minutes before your flight,” he said. “I live in North Haven, and I can get my bag, take a taxi and be [at Tweed] all within 30 minutes. I think that’s important.”
But Rescigno acknowledged that the airport might not be as convenient for people taking cross-country flights or for those who do not want to make connections.
Ward 13 Alderman Alex Rhodeen, who said he uses Tweed “for both business and pleasure,” said the health of the airport is vital to the region. Each person who comes to the region, he said, generates $500 for the local economy. But too few people know about the services the airport offers, he said.
“The biggest challenge Tweed has is people being aware of it,” he said.
Rhodeen said there will be an advertising campaign in the region to highlight the new services at the airport, though he did not specify when it would begin.