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Local airport departures take off with arrival of Breeze

Silhouette airplane flying take off from runway on sunset
Airubon/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Silhouette airplane flying take off from runway on sunset

The arrival of a new airline last month paid off for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

Passenger departures rose by almost 25% compared to the previous February, according to airport data.

Two factors fueled the big jump. One was the almost 1,000 passengers who flew on new Breeze Airways flights to Orlando, Florida. The Orlando flights started Jan. 30.

Airport director Carl Beardsley Jr. said Breeze filled more than 90 percent of available seats in its first month.

“They are doing phenomenal. They have a load factor of 91% right now,” Beardsley said.

The other factor was almost 2,500 more departures on American Airlines flights compared to last February.

“Chicago, through American Airlines, and also United are showing an increase as well,” Beardsley said.

For the last 10 months of last year, airport departures dropped compared to the same month the previous year.

Airport officials hope for even more gains soon. The day the first Breeze flight departed, airline officials announced Breeze will add two more weekly flights in late May.

American will add a flight to Chicago next month. United added a flight to Chicago on March 4 and plans flights to Washington, D.C., in late June. The Washington flights will replace flights to Newark.

“And although Newark is a fantastic hub, I think our travelers like going through Washington Dulles (airport) a little bit more,” Beardsley said.

Borys joins WVIA News from The Scranton Times-Tribune, where he served as an investigative reporter and covered a wide range of political stories. His work has been recognized with numerous national and state journalism awards from the Inland Press Association, Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, Society of Professional Journalists and Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association.

You can email Borys at boryskrawczeniuk@wvia.org