Southwest Stewart service should succeed, says Schumer

Schumer-ET.jpgOkay, let’s be frank. You be earnest and I’ll be frank, as they say. We don’t like this guy, Chuck Schumer, but we have to give him credit: he helped JetBlue get started, pressured the FAA to keep its eye on the ball of JetBlue’s application and helped ease the way between the then-nascent carrier and airport authorities. And he made sure that they served upstate cities like Rochester and Syracuse, even though he’s from Brooklyn. Now, New York State’s senior senator, a guy whose voice and manner both grate on a lot of us who aren’t from Brooklyn, wants Southwest to begin service at New York’s Stewart International Airport.

Schumer, a Democrat, says he spoke personally to Southwest chairman and chief executive Gary Kelly and urged him to start flights at the airport, about 50 miles from Manhattan’s Times Square but on the west side of the Hudson river. Schumer says direct Southwest flights to its BWI semi-, mini-, sort-of-hub would be welcomed by the flying public.

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Schumer insisted that Stewart’s service decline – AirTran pulled out and Skybus failed – is merely temporary. “The long-time prospects for Stewart airport remain bright; if you offer the service, they will come,” Schumer said. JetBlue, for instance, still serves Forida points from the airport near Newburgh, NY.

Even with the coming Southwest service to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, many travellers in the Stewart area will still have to drive 80 miles north to Albany to catch a low-fare flight (on Southwest).

Southwest confirmed that Kelly had spoken to Schumer, but said only that it would consider his request. The Dallas-based carrier plans to slow its growth dramatically next year but has justv won bankruptcy court permission to buy assets of the defunct ATA Airlines, including the bankrupt carrier’s 14 LaGuardia slots.

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