People Express Announces Flights To Newark, Boston, Pittsburgh

May 30--People Express announced today daily round-trip flights from Newport News to Newark, Boston and Pittsburgh will begin on June 30.

The company made the announcement at Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport and said it will start taking reservations in June. Fares will be as low as $76 each way for the first month of service, said company CEO and President Jeff Erickson.

Tickets will go on sale June 4 at, company officials said. Erickson said the company's call center at 844-435-9739, began accepting calls on Friday.

The company will offer two daily round-trip flights to Newark and single round-trip flights to the other destinations. The company is leasing three Boeing 150-seat 737 planes from Vision Airlines. The planes are painted in People Express colors of green and white and feature the company's logo.

Vision also will provide the pilots and flight crews for the flights. Company Vice President of Marketing Steven Shatsky said the crews and planes will be based in Newport News.

On July 15, it will start daily round-trip service to West Palm Beach, Fla. In August, the company will add flights to Atlanta; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and New Orleans.

"This announcement is truly incredible," said Gov. Terry McAuliffe, in town for the launch of the airline. "Folks, this is how we grow the economy."

Erickson said he anticipates the launch of the new People Express will create more than 100 new local jobs initially,growing to 200 by the end of the summer and about 750 by the end of the year.

"We anticipate that it will get significantly larger than that," said Newport News City Manager Jim Bourey, who also serves on the airport commission.

Airport and People Express officials had hoped to have one of the company's planes on the tarmac outside Concourse A, which the airline will use, but the plane was delayed in Mexico, where it was being inspected and painted. It was expected to arrive at the airport around 4 p.m.

The airline service will help fill a void for business and leisure travelers, who previously relied on low-cost flights from Newport News on AirTran Airlines, said Newport News Development Director Florence Kingston. AirTran pulled out of Newport News in 2012 after being acquired by Southwest Airlines.

"This is an absolute game changer for Newport News," said Bourey. "This opens us to markets with non-stop travel. ... This is a huge benefit for the entire region."

When People Express was established in 2012, airline officials said their goal was to provide low-cost flights to destinations served by AirTran, including Boston, New York and Atlanta.

Erickson said the fares offered after the one-month introductory period "will be very attractive. What we have developed is a low-cost a la carte service so passengers can customize their service."

There will be 138 coach seats on each flight, and 12 "Living Large" seats that offer more space for a fee.

Copyright 2014 - Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)