Richmond Relieved to Receive More Delta Flights to N.Y.

Mar. 1--Richmond's airport won't be losing Delta Air Line service to New York City after all.

After several hours of worrying about losing flights to Richmond's top destination, airport officials were relieved yesterday to find that Delta will increase service to the Big Apple in May.

The bumpy ride with Delta began during the Capital Region Airport Commission's early morning meeting.

Airport marketing manager Troy Bell told the regional airport board that Aviation Daily, an industry publication, reported Monday that Delta planned a retreat from New York.

The aviation journal put Richmond on a list of 15 cities -- including Charlotte, N.C., and Greensboro, N.C. -- that were poised to lose all Delta service from New York's LaGuardia airport.

Aviation Daily said the cuts were part of Delta's attempts to trim its costs as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan.

But Delta officials said they never intended to cut service from Richmond or most of the other cities cited by the aviation journal and by some news services.

Delta shouldered the blame for the mix-up. "We had an error in the May 2006 schedule" sent last week to airline industry analysts and online travel sites, said Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin.

Laughlin said she didn't know the cause of the error but stressed that it was never posted on any official purchasing site.

"For customers in Richmond, it's very important to know we haven't canceled service from LaGuardia," Laughlin said. "Delta will continue to compete vigorously in the New York market."

In checking the corrected schedule, she discovered that Delta plans to add a fourth daily flight to LaGuardia.

Bell sounded relieved that Delta wasn't throwing in the towel in the Richmond-to-New York market. Delta is the top airline from here to Atlanta.

Even if Delta had made its cuts, Richmond International would have seen a net increase in service to New York-area airports.

Continental Airlines plans to increase its current five daily flights to six to Newark, N.J., and US Airways is keeping its eight flights to LaGuardia.

And on March 31, JetBlue plans to begin four flights a day from Richmond to John F. Kennedy International Airport.