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Airport News, "T.F. Green among regional airports touted in marketing plan"



Friday, January 5, 2001

Green among regional airports touted in marketing plan
 The campaign organized by the Massachusetts Port Authority seeks to ease
crowding at Boston's Logan airport by encouraging use of New England's other
airports.
Associated Press


BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Port Authority has spent years trying to
persuade travelers to use Logan International Airport. Now it's trying to
persuade them to fly somewhere else.

Logan is simply too crowded. Massport will spend $500,000 this year to
promote regional airports through a unified marketing plan called Fly New
England. The airports in the six New England states want to make airlines,
travel agencies and tourism groups aware there are regional alternatives to
the jam-packed, traffic-clogged airports like Logan.

"Using regional airports to their maximum potential is really the future for
handling air traffic growth," said Virginia Buckingham, the executive
director of Massport, which runs Logan. "The larger airports are really
becoming overcrowded and delay-ridden.

"While we can fix some things, like adding new runways at Logan, over the
long run we're going to have to let regional airports take the brunt."

The airports will also contribute money to the effort, each one paying what
they can afford. Their contributions will probably be "less, but not
substantially less" than Massport's, estimated Brian O'Neill, the assistant
airport director at Manchester Airport in New Hampshire.

Fly New England defies the conventional wisdom of a few years ago, which had
regional airports lobbying airlines for certain routes without considering
what flights were running out of other nearby airports. Fly New England will
be promoted in television ads, printed materials and appearances at industry
trade shows.

"I give Massport a lot of credit. They could have taken a parochial view and
said, 'Our passengers are our passengers, your passengers are your
passengers. Good luck,' " O'Neill said. "But they came to the table, Bradley
[International Airport in Connecticut] came to the table . . . we're all
going to benefit if we hang together, because a rising tide floats all
boats."

Kevin Sullivan, the marketing director for Maine's Portland International
Jetport, said the Fly New England plan being spearheaded by Buckingham
provides a much-needed marketing push.

The airports have to change their marketing techniques because of changes in
the airline industry in recent years, including the consolidation of some
major airlines and the emergence of smaller discount airlines. When
Southwest Airlines started providing discounted fares at smaller airports
such as Providence and Manchester, N.H., passengers suddenly could get to
their favorite destinations without having to depart from a major city.

In the early 1990s, Manchester Airport had 11 flights a day operating out of
a 24,000-square-foot terminal. Now it has 50 flights a day in a
228,000-square-foot terminal.

"If you look at the transformation over the last five years, Manchester
Airport went from a convenient airport near Logan that did not offer a lot
of service and had high ticket prices . . . to a growing airport with a
considerable schedule of nonstop destinations with extremely competitive
prices," O'Neill said.

Airline analyst Michael Boyd, of the Evergreen, Colo.-based Boyd Group, said
that the growth of regional airports will happen regardless of whether or
not Massport helps advertise them. And that means he's not sure the Fly New
England marketing push is really worth it.

"Manchester hasn't grown as much as it has because people have accidentally
found the airport," Boyd says. "I don't know if it's a wasted effort, but I
think what they're going after is something that's already in the pipeline."

The Fly New England campaign isn't good news to everyone, particularly civic
groups opposed to regional airport growth. A group called Save Our Heritage
has been fighting expansion at Bedford's Hanscom Field for years.

The group doesn't want that infrastructure expanded, particularly because
the road leading to the airport holds historic significance: it's the same
road on which Paul Revere was caught by the British on the night the
American Revolution started.

"We still feel that Hanscom is the wrong place to promote commercial
aviation by virtue of the fact that the infrastructure cannot possibly
handle commercial operations," said Anna Winter, executive director of Save
Our Heritage.

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