2 nonstops to New York

Continental resumes flight to Newark, plans to keep it year-round

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Tucson travelers now have a choice of nonstop flights to the New York City area.

After JetBlue Airways inaugurated nonstop service to John F. Kennedy International Airport from Tucson in September, Continental Airlines quietly resumed nonstop flights to Newark Liberty International Airport two weeks ago.

Continental had previously offered the Newark service but canceled it in 2005, citing weak demand. Now the Houston-based carrier says it plans to keep the flight going year-round.

Alex Kovach, director of air-service research and development at Tucson International Airport, said there is enough demand to support the new service.

"There should be plenty of passengers for both flights to operate successfully," he said.

While fares vary widely depending on how far in advance they are booked and other factors, JetBlue on Thursday showed a distinct price advantage over Continental for a randomly chosen date for travel from Tucson.

The travel search engine Kayak.com on the Airtucson.com Web site Thursday showed JetBlue's round-trip fare from Tucson to JFK at $289. Continental showed up at $549 round-trip Tucson to Newark on the same dates in mid-January. Both fares included taxes and fees.

The airline Web sites operated by the carriers sometimes have lower fares than those on general search sites.

The addition of Newark to the Tucson International Airport mix of destinations "makes Tucson even more attractive as a leisure, meeting or convention destination," Kovach said.

JetBlue offers connections from JFK to cities in the northeast such as Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y., and Portland, Maine. Continental offers regional service out of Newark and also connections to Europe and South America.

Continental spokeswoman Mary Clark in Houston said the airline offered seasonal service to the New York area before, but now "it's in the schedule year-round."

"Our intention is to keep the nonstop service. It may sometimes be a red-eye flight, sometimes daytime."

The Continental service now leaves Tucson at 12:20 a.m. and arrives in Newark at 6:30 a.m. The return service leaves Newark at 7:55 p.m. and arrives in Tucson at 11:31 p.m. All times are local. Between Jan. 8 and Feb. 14, the flight will leave Tucson at 1:30 p.m. and arrive at 7:46 p.m. The Newark flight to Tucson will depart at 7:05 a.m. and arrive in Tucson at 12:46 p.m.

The JetBlue nonstop service remains an overnight "shut-eye" flight in the airline's parlance, leaving Tucson at 11:55 p.m. and arriving in New York at 6:20 a.m. The return flight leaves New York at 7:20 p.m. and arrives in Tucson at 11 p.m.

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TIMELINE

* October 2004: Continental Airlines begins daily nonstop service to Newark Liberty International Airport.

* April 2005: Continental abandons its daily flights due to lack of demand.

* September 2006: JetBlue inaugurates daily nonstop flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

* Dec. 16: Continental resumes daily flights to Newark and intends to maintain the flights year-round.

* Contact Richard Ducote at 573-4178 or rducote@azstarnet.com



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