December 20, 2012

Editorial: Sky's the limit at local airport

Things are looking up in a big way at Plattsburgh International Airport. Non-stop flights to and from Las Vegas begin today, and similar flights will resume to and from the Fort Myers, Fla., area Feb 23.

The brief lull in activity caused by the bankruptcy of DirectAir is over. The Fort Myers flights, provided by South Carolina-based DirectAir, were an enormous hit. Flying four times a week, they challenged passengers to be far-sighted in their scheduling, as the flights were generally fully booked.

But DirectAir fell behind on its bills — through no fault of the Plattsburgh connection — and the planes were grounded for good last March 13.

Meanwhile, Allegiant Travel Co. continued to do a brisk business out of Plattsburgh, with flights to and from Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and St. Petersburg/Tampa, Fla. It seemed only a matter of time before Allegiant — or somebody — filled the gap created by DirectAir’s demise.

Sure enough, Allegiant announced earlier this month that it will offer flights to Punta Gorda, a convenient half hour from Fort Myers.

On Tuesday, the Press-Republican published a Letter to the Editor from Norm Stotland of Ontario, Canada, extolling the reintroduction of the service. “Our fourth return flight out of Plattsburgh International was not that much different from the three previous, direct flights to sun destinations, courteous staff and half the price of flying from Ottawa,” he wrote.

On the flight, he noted, were passengers from Montreal, Ottawa, Trois Rivieres, Burlington and Plattsburgh. He mentioned that “there are far more options to fly to Florida from Plattsburgh than there are from Ottawa, a city 40 times the size of Plattsburgh,” making it preferable despite the three-hour drive to the airport and the $5 daily parking fee.

We checked prices to fly from Burlington to Las Vegas. The cheapest flight on Travelocity to Vegas was $352.40 on Delta with two stops or $418.60 with one. From Plattsburgh, the introductory fare is $150, though that will rise.

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