Skybus adds flights from PTI to airport near New York City

Skybus Airlines said Thursday it will add the New York City area to destinations it plans to serve from its Piedmont Triad International Airport hub beginning in 2008.

The flights will go to Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, beginning on Feb. 25.

Newburgh is 55 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley.

Interstate access and public transportation will be available, the airline said.

New York is PTI's top destination, said Henry Isaacson, chairman of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority. Now, Stewart airport offers buses to train service into Manhattan, he said. But the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plans to take over the airport and that "bodes well for maybe better transportation service into Manhattan," Isaacson said.

Skybus will offer at least 10 seats on every flight for $10, increasing fares from that point, as it does for all flights.

Tickets for the New York/Stewart service are now on sale exclusively at Skybus does not sell tickets by telephone.

Columbus-based Skybus will offer two daily flights from its hubs at PTI and Columbus.

The airline said last week it will add nonstop service from PTI to seven cities, including the Boston and Los Angeles areas, with the first new flights beginning in January.

With the Newburgh flights and its existing daily flight to Columbus, Ohio, Skybus will have 13 daily flights from PTI to nine cities by the end of February.

Skybus will create as many as 375 jobs and invest more than $350 million in aircraft and equipment here, the company said Oct. 22.

Potential incentives from the airport and the state could reach $57 million.

The incentives include:

l $6.3 million spent to fix up the gates and a ticket counter, add ramps and build at least 1,600 ground-level parking spaces.

l $300,000 in marketing and advertising for the new flights.

l $2 million or more from the airport's new program that pays airlines adding new nonstop service $2.15 for every passenger who boards a flight.

A second phase of the deal offers Skybus larger, long-term incentives if the airline can bring in new passengers and drastically increase traffic at PTI. It includes:

l A new ground-level Skybus concourse to be built north of the airport's north concourse at a cost of $7.2 million.

l A nearby parking deck with 3,000 new spaces at a cost of $33 million.

The state already has offered Skybus up to $4 million in grants if the airline hires 375 workers. Regional groups have thrown in another $1.1 million.

Contact Richard M. Barron at 373-7371 or dbarron

* Two flights a day will go from the Triad to Stewart International Airport, which is 55 miles north of the city.