U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, visited Albany International Airport Monday calling for JetBlue to establish a presence in the Capital Region.
Having JetBlue in Albany would boost competition and availability of low-cost flights out of the airport, Schumer said. He previously brought Southwest Airlines to the airport in 2000.
“JetBlue setting up shop for the first time at Albany International would clearly benefit both JetBlue and the residents and businesses of the Capital Region,” Schumer said. “Demand is up at Albany International, and the airport serves a growing population and a growing economy, so now is the time for airlines to jump in and take advantage of that need for service.”
JetBlue spokesperson Sharon Jones said in a prepared statement that the airline is “always looking for opportunities to grow” and that JetBlue will “strongly consider Schumer’s proposal.”
JetBlue currently serves Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. Schumer’s call comes following the $17 billion merger of U.S. Airways and American Airlines in December.
Schumer said the merger provided an opportunity for JetBlue to pick up “a significant number of flight slots,” and is urging the airline to therefore increase flights to Albany.
Prices have risen at the airport in recent years, Schumer said. Domestic fares have increased 28 percent since 2008, and Southwest Airlines has boosted its fares 66 percent since 2004.
In a news release from Schumer’s office Monday, he points to Albany’s nanotechnology industry as the main driver of a growing economy and rising median incomes. He said as a result people could afford more and travel more.
“I believe JetBlue landing at Albany International would increase competitiveness at the airport and drive down prices,” Schumer said. “They have a proven track record of offering affordable service in New York and if they expand to Albany, they would solidify themselves as one of New York’s leading airlines.”