(WKBW release) -- United States Senator Charles E. Schumer announced Tuesday that he has called Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, urging him to consider expanding and improving Southwest’s service at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport and across Upstate New York in the wake of the announced merger with AirTran.
In response to Schumer’s request, Kelly assured him that Southwest’s network planning department is beginning to evaluate how best to link Southwest and AirTran’s existing routes. Kelly also noted that the airline is considering its options for expanding beyond the combined map of the two airlines routes, opening up new pathways of travel for Upstate New Yorkers.
“The merger between AirTran and Southwest presents a unique opportunity to improve air service at Buffalo Niagara airport and across Upstate New York,” said Schumer. “Southwest’s arrival in Upstate New York has been welcomed with open arms by tourists, businesspersons, and families throughout the state. I am thrilled that Southwest is taking a close look at its service routes and considering how to expand in Upstate NY. I am going to do everything I can to ensure that we build upon this success and use this chance to open up new routes and economic opportunities through the skies.”
Southwest announced in early May that it had completed its acquisition of AirTran, allowing the two companies to begin the process of merging. The company will now begin the process of evaluating how best to link its services with AirTran and what new markets they’ll be able to serve. According to Southwest, this merger opens up new opportunities to expand their network to markets that they don’t currently serve.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that, from the 2009 to the 2010 summer travel seasons, Southwest carried the most passengers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport with a 27.5% share. AirTran and Southwest are important to the economies of cities across Upstate New York, and a loss of any service would have a negative impact on travelers and businesses.
When the merger between the two companies was first proposed, Schumer asked that Southwest commit to maintaining the current number of flights that Southwest and AirTran together service at Buffalo Niagara International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
Schumer has led the charge to bring affordable air service to Upstate New York. Since 2001, Schumer has helped to bring JetBlue flights to Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester, and Southwest flights to Albany. Schumer’s conversation with Kelly is part of his ongoing efforts to preserve and enhance upstate air service, aiding tourism, business development, and other travel throughout the state.