US Senate minority leader Schumer pushes airlines to start new routes to New York airports

Sen. Schumer contacted Aer Lingus, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), the US Senate’s minority leader, took time away from US President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to urge three airlines to start new routes from airports in New York state.

Schumer, the senior senator representing New York state, is a juror in the impeachment trial, but the long hours of deliberations in the Senate chamber did not stop him from playing his hand at airline route planning. On Jan. 29, he penned three letters to airline executives pushing for new routes from Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) and Stewart International Airport (SWF), respectively.

Schumer wants both United Airlines and JetBlue Airways to fly between BUF and the San Francisco Bay Area. He also wants Aer Lingus to fly from SWF to Ireland and the UK. JetBlue and/or United flights from BUF to San Francisco would be a “win-win” for the airlines and upstate New York, Schumer said in a statement.

“The volume of Canadian customers choosing to fly out of BUF rather than Toronto for their US-bound final destinations has only continued to grow in the past few years,” Schumer informed United CEO Oscar Munoz in a letter released publicly. “Toronto Pearson Airport is the only Southern Ontario airport with nonstop service to the Bay Area; however, it has high fares and taxes. United’s significant presence in both the Buffalo and San Francisco areas and its market brand power would be an asset to maximize an opportunity for non-stop service from Buffalo.”

Schumer also pushed JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes to start flights between BUF and San Francisco. “As you know, JetBlue has been extremely successful in attracting Canadians to use BUF for non-stop BUF-LAX flights; since service began on June 16, 2016, JetBlue's market share of the traffic between these airports grew 725%,” Schumer told Hayes. “Toronto Pearson Airport is the only Southern Ontario airport with nonstop service to the Bay Area; however, it has high fares and taxes. JetBlue’s significant presence in both the Buffalo and San Francisco areas and its market brand power would be an asset to maximize an opportunity for non-stop service from Buffalo.”

Not content with these domestic routes, Schumer wants Aer Lingus to operate to SWF, which is located in the Hudson Valley about 60 mi. from New York City. “I ask that Aer Lingus seriously consider the many benefits Stewart Airport features as a location to expand your direct international service, especially to Ireland and Britain,” Schumer wrote to Aer Lingus. “As you may know, between 2017 and 2019, Norwegian Airlines flew up to two popular daytime routes between SWF and Dublin, advertising SWF as a low-cost alternative to the downstate airports for fliers. In August of last year, Norwegian made the decision to cease service at Stewart, citing the grounding of the [Boeing] 737 MAX. This gap in service opens up new opportunities for airlines like Aer Lingus to meet a demand for international flight options that was made evident by Norwegian’s experience. Stewart Airport’s location presents an opportunity to expand operations and capture more passengers in the Hudson Valley, the many millions in nearby New York metropolitan area and upstate New York.”

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