FWA gains Philadelphia, Charlotte flights

May 5th, 2014

News Coverage:

FWA gains Philadelphia, Charlotte flights

Posted: Monday, May 5, 2014 1:36 pm | Updated: 2:13 pm, Mon May 5, 2014.

Barry Rochford

Fort Wayne International Airport has landed two new flights to East Coast destinations, and the additional air service is expected to bolster economic-development efforts throughout the region.

At a news conference Monday morning, Scott Hinderman, executive director of airports for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority, said beginning Oct. 2, US Airways Express will offer two daily flights between Fort Wayne and Philadelphia International Airport, and a once-daily flight between Fort Wayne and Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.

US Airways Express is owned by Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines Group, and the announcement Monday of new routes out of FWA was part of a larger rollout of additional air service at a handful of Midwest cities, including Evansville. American Airlines already offers air service from Fort Wayne to Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth.

“Philadelphia has wonderful access to the northeast as well as international,” Hinderman said of the new routes out of Fort Wayne International Airport. “Charlotte is a great destination.”

Flights to Philadelphia will depart each afternoon and evening, according to the airport authority, which operates Fort Wayne International Airport. The Charlotte flight will depart each evening. US Airways Express will service the routes using Bombardier CRJ regional jets.

Standing close to a refreshment table featuring Philly cheesesteaks and sweetened iced tea, Hinderman said opening air-service access to the East Coast, particularly the northeast, has long been a goal for the region.

“This has been a community (effort),” he said. “It takes a community to do air service. It takes people to ride those airplanes to keep air service. The city, the county, the (Indiana Economic Development Corp.), the entire region has been very involved in gaining these additional routes.”

Fort Wayne has close ties to Philadelphia, largely because it’s the home of Lincoln National Corp. The company’s annuities operations are based in the Summit City, and it’s one of Allen Countys largest employers.

Scott Glaze, CEO of Fort Wayne Metals and vice president of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., said both destinations will be advantageous to his business.

“We believe that the accessibility of Fort Wayne through the air service is critically important for the economy here,” he said. “In fact, (for) my company, Charlotte and Philadelphia happen to be two locations where our major suppliers are. So it will facilitate travel for my engineers, their engineers, their salespeople to go back and forth. And we also have quite a few customers in both areas.”

Mayor Tom Henry said not only will the new routes facilitate travel from Fort Wayne, they will be instrumental in bringing businesses to the region.

“We’ve been trying very hard in Fort Wayne for a number of years now to make Fort Wayne a point of destination,” he said. “As I go up and down the East Coast on some of my travels, people remind me of that. They say, ‘Mayor, you’re trying to make Fort Wayne a destination, but quite frankly, except for driving, how are we supposed to get there?’”

Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters said the two routes have the potential to be successful. The county, along with the city of Fort Wayne, the airport authority, Greater Fort Wayne and the IEDC earlier this year approved a total of $2.5 million in incentives to help attract daily East Coast flights out of Fort Wayne International Airport.

“It looks like there is phenomenal potential, not only for us going to the East Coast but bringing people from the East Coast to Fort Wayne and northeastern Indiana that will help create huge benefit from a dollars and cents perspective,” Peters said.

Angola Mayor Richard Hickman said he believes the additional flights will benefit businesses in his city. Hickman, who is active in regional economic-development efforts, also said the new routes support the notion that when Fort Wayne wins, the region wins.

It was an idea underscored by Tim Pape, an attorney at Carson Boxberger LLP in Fort Wayne who sits on the Regional Opportunities Council that oversees the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s Vision 2020 initiative to advance the region’s economy and quality of life. He said gaining air service to Philadelphia and Charlotte is “stunning” for a couple of reasons.

“One reason it’s stunning is this isn’t happening in other communities we’re competing with. They’re losing connectivity. They’re losing flights,” Pape said.

“In order to work together, to be stronger together, we have to have relationship. And relationship is only founded on trust and understanding. And so the real second stunning success today is we’re going to keep having these wins.”