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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning

"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Cheaper airfare...

It looks like there's a chance we'll get JetBlue at Albany airport. Chuck Schumer is on the case, and he's definitely a master at delivering the goods to his constituents, for better or worse. And in this case, better:
"The aircraft would mean new destinations and expanded service, both of which would drive down airfares throughout the Capital Region."
Everyone likes lower airfares. But I must say that the second half of the article was a bit disturbing:
As for the future, the Albany County Airport Authority in January approved plans to design an expansion of the terminal.

A steady climb in passenger traffic would justify the addition of a so-called Concourse D, said airport spokesman Doug Myers. Boardings at the airport reached a record 1.55 million in 2004, up 8.4 percent from 2003. For the first three months of this year, boardings totaled 363,000, up from 345,000 in the same period last year.

The airport already is planning to add at least 1,500 parking spaces, bringing the number of spaces to 6,300, to accommodate traffic during peak travel times. Over recent holidays, travelers have had to park along access roads.

The terminal expansion project will be put out to bid next spring, Myers said.
Now, don't get me wrong, lower airfares trump almost all other considerations. Nevertheless, I'm worried about what expansion is going to do to the hassle-factor at an ever-growing regional airport. I'm already nostaligc for the days when you could park your car 15 seconds from the door, get your tickets in under 3 minutes, and be at your gate 2 minutes later at Albany airport. Fifteen years ago, it was the most accesible airport of its size in the country, bar none. Now, it still is incredible accesible, and the hassles are still minimal compared to major airports, but things are changing - lines are longer, the parking is getting worse, etc. Don't get me wrong, a lot has been massively upgraded as well - the services available now are much better, there are more flights and, lest we forget, 15 years ago only Gate 1a and 1b even had tubes to walk to the plane in.

But we're starting to creep toward the point where the "big-airport"-style hassles are coming in without anyt sign of the great direct flights that make big airport hassles worthwhile. The last thing I want Albany to turn into is Hartford BDL, which has the same cruddy selection of regional flights, but has all the hassles of a big city airport: parking, prices, crowds, etc. Another massive expansion of the airport needs to be coupled with better services, such as direct flights to more destinations outside of the northeast and mid-atlantic.

But yes, JetBlue of course will be a welcome option. But more direct flights would be even better, in my opinion.
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At 1:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

All of the airlines operate "hub and spoke" systems. Albany will always be a spoke, not a hub.    

At 2:56 PM , Blogger Matt said:

Yup. That's right, we will always be a spoke. Which is EXACTLY why we don't want to end up like Hartford - a spoke airport with the annoyances of a hub.


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