Delta Adds Direct Flight From Ohio to Orlando

You'll soon have more direct flights to get to the land of Mickey Mouse from Akron-Canton Airport.

On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines said it would begin a nonstop daily flight from Akron to Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 15.

AirTran Airways already has one daily flight from Akron to Orlando.

Airport Marketing Director Kristie Van Auken said having two airlines offering nonstop flights to Orlando is good news.

``Airlines don't add flights where people don't want to fly,'' she said.

Orlando is a popular destination for Northeast Ohio travelers, especially those who want to get to Disney World, said Neil Gasser, a travel agent at Chima Travel in Fairlawn.

``I'm sure it's going to be a plus for everyone,'' Gasser said. Travelers ``are always looking for a nonstop. The more service they can get, the better off they are.''

Delta Connection carrier Freedom Airlines will operate the new service. The airline will use a 50-seat regional jet. AirTran uses a 117-passenger jet with a business class.

Delta matched AirTran's current Web fare of $74 each way for tickets purchased by Nov. 8. For the special, Delta requires a three-night minimum stay for flights leaving Sunday through Thursday and flights leaving on Friday or Saturday require a Saturday night stay.

Orlando is a destination that does well from most cities as travelers seek a sunny spot, said AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver. Orlando was AirTran's first nonstop flight from Akron-Canton Airport in 1996.

Delta recently filed for bankruptcy and said it would cut domestic capacity by 15 percent to 20 percent. But the airline also said it would be looking at markets where it sees good opportunities, said Delta spokeswoman Benet Wilson.

``Orlando is a focus city and the state of Florida is a focus state for us,'' Wilson said. When the airline began looking at passenger traffic, it determined Akron-Canton was a good choice, she said.

``Akron-Canton, we feel, is a strong market. People want to go to Orlando year-round and we think we can support it,'' Wilson said.

Van Auken said Delta wouldn't have started the new service if AirTran weren't successful.

Graham-Weaver called it the ``AirTran effect.''

``Most everywhere we go, low fares follow. It usually means competition matches what we're doing because it's been successful,'' she said.

Wilson said she did not know what the average fare will be after the introductory fare, but acknowledged that it would probably be close to AirTran's fares.

Van Auken said she doubts fares will get much lower than $74 each way because it's already a good price and gas prices are high. Prices may increase during the colder months when demand is higher, she said.

Akron Beacon Journal

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