WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) - Massachusetts officials are hoping that the empty parking lots and terminals at Worcester Regional Airport are soon filled by travelers taking advantage of JetBlue service to Florida.
The airline will start offering two daily flights out of Worcester, one to Orlando and one to Fort Lauderdale, starting Nov. 7 on 100-seat Embraer 190 aircraft, Gov. Deval Patrick and JetBlue Chief Executive Officer Dave Barger announced Wednesday.
The airport has not had commercial passenger service since Direct Air filed for bankruptcy a year ago. The Massachusetts Port Authority, which owns the airport, has been actively pursuing New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp. since then.
"I am proud to welcome JetBlue to Worcester, and thank the lieutenant governor, our partners in Worcester and at Massport for helping to make this happen," Patrick said. "Airports and airlines grow jobs and spur economic opportunity in our cities."
JetBlue appreciated efforts to woo the airline, Barger said.
"The enthusiasm of the Worcester community and the warm reception with which we've been met has been tremendous," he said.
Massport is giving JetBlue a $275,000 break on airport fees and charges for two years, along with $150,000 worth of free marketing.
The state has been investing almost $9 million in the airport since Massport took it over from the city in 2010.
The agency announced last month that it will add a parallel taxiway and install a new instrument landing system at Worcester.
Worcester gives travelers a less-crowded alternative to Boston's Logan International Airport.
At its peak in 1989, the Worcester airport served more than 340,000 people and had four commercial carriers. But between 2009 and 2012, 250,000 people traveled through the airport, according to Massport.
A Massachusetts Department of Transportation economic impact study found that the Worcester airport contributes $51.5 million to the regional economy.
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