ERIE INTERNATIONAL Airport wants bite of Big Apple

Amid a boost in passengers, the Erie airport hopes to add a flight to the New York market.
ERIE, Pa. (AP) -- Just days after Erie International Airport posted its busiest January ever, officials say they hope rising passenger numbers will help them find an airline to offer flights to the Big Apple.
"It is no secret we would like to see flights to the New York market," said Kelly Fredericks, the airport's executive director.
Last month, 14,305 passengers boarded commercial flights at the airport -- 25 percent more than January 2004. Passenger figures have been growing for months and with them, airport officials hope, the likelihood that airlines will add more flights.
"In the fourth quarter of 2004, our traffic increased 30.9 percent, but our capacity increased only 6.7 percent," said Christopher Rogers, director of strategic development for the Erie Municipal Airport Authority. "The airlines ... are filling up a higher percentage of their seats. And as those load factors go up, new opportunities present themselves."
Increasing service
Fredericks hopes to persuade Northwest Airlink to add more flights to Detroit, and he wants Delta to increase its Erie service to Cincinnati, too. But Fredericks also hopes to add destinations -- not just flights to cities already served out of Erie.
"We have a new destination we are going to try to focus on ... and that is the New York market," Fredericks said.
Local travel agents say flights to New York make sense, too.
"You would be surprised how many people drive from here to Buffalo to catch JetBlue for New York, especially for business," said Eric Dahlstrand, manager at Miller Travel Services in Erie.
"Right now, people go to New York through Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Buffalo," said Jan Haughney of Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Erie. "But it takes a long time to get there."

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