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FlyORH: Building Momentum at Worcester Regional Airport

Thursday, April 10, 2014

 

Worcester Airport is working on establishing JetBlue as a viable option for flights to Florida—how can they boost progress?

Over the past couple of weeks, I have written that I have become concerned with the loads on JetBlue’s daily flight to Orlando. Right now, I estimate the loads to be less than 80% on the Embraer (100 seats) to Orlando, while the Fort Lauderdale flight is closer to 90% on the same plane.

Let’s take a look at JetBlue flights to Orlando this past Sunday out of ORH’s sister airport, Boston. I had no idea that there were this many daily non-stop flights to Orlando out of Boston on their Airbus (150 seats). There are 7 daily flights—yes, 7—from BOS-MCO or 1050 seats per day compared to ORH’s 100. The day before departure, there were 138 seats unreserved for a load factor of 87%. ORH’s one flight of 100 out of Worcester has 25 unreserved on its one flight for a 75% load factor.

You can look at this two ways. One could say that Worcester is not performing well not being able to sell out one plane to Orlando with a great airline and very competitive pricing. I have to admit that argument has some merit.

On the other hand, I would argue that we only started on November 7th and it takes time to establish a route. In fact, when I look at the numbers out of Boston, I see it as a positive. Boston has 7 non-stop flights per day to Orlando with their larger plane. Once the Worcester route gets more established, there is a lot of room for growth with just this one route.

Putting aside the one weakness of having no Cat III landing equipment, there are a lot of positives:

·       Airport that is easy to access
·       Great airport itself
·       Cheap parking ($7 per day or $42 per week)
·       Great airline (JetBlue)
·       Very competitive pricing

Getting the word out

Why isn’t Orlando full every day? The answer to me seems to be marketing.

Recently driving around the city, I have seen 4 billboards for Emirates and one billboard for TF Green. There are none on Route 290 or Route 146 for either JetBlue or Worcester Regional Airport. There are beautiful new digital billboards on both of those major highways that would look awesome with JetBlue advertising their service out of Worcester.

This past Sunday there was an ad from Massport that had a picture of Juan Gomez, the past City Councilor and Executive Director of Centros Las Americas. The ad showed how easy it was for him to travel to Puerto Rico out of Worcester. We should continue this campaign hi-lighting passengers frequenting ORH.

I remember when the Worcester Fashion Outlets opened and Judith Light was hired as a spokesperson. Although it may sound stupid, I still remember who the spokesperson was and vividly remember people waiting in lines for her autographed picture.

Worcester Airport needs a spokesperson to let people know Worcester Airport has changed. Here are some of my ideas:

·       Bob Cousy touting how easy it is to fly to Florida out of Worcester.
·       David Ortiz inviting people to visiting his home country, the Dominican Republic, out of Worcester

Let’s bring the humanity back into flying out of Worcester and hire a human spokesperson to get the word out and realize the potential of our airport.

 

Bill Randell is the President of Advantage Benefits, an insurance brokerage house specializing in employee benefits with an emphasis on health insurance, based in Worcester since 1992. He can be contacted at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter (@FlyORH).

 

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