Importance of Cat III Landing equipment

GoLocalWorcester Column

phase 2Many years ago, a small group of us (Tim MacDonald, Dave Stead, Deb Powers, Tim Desantis and Tom Moore) came up the with the idea that JetBlue should come to ORH, fly a shuttle to their hub in NYC (JFK) and then connect direct to all the destinations on the JetBlue route map. We thought pretty simple especially when you consider JetBlue flies from Boston to JFK and back seven times per day.

On November 7th, JetBlue will begin flights out of ORH. Not to JFK in New York, but daily to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO). Florida flights target leisure travelers, not business travelers. Although there may be some connections to San Juan, most of the passengers will be flying to either FLL or MCO. If these flights were delayed for weather, these passengers are more apt to accept an hour or two delay.

On the other hand, a flight to JFK would consist mostly of business travelers or passengers needing to make connections. A delay to this flight would cause many problems. Although JFK is in JetBlue marketing plans for ORH as evidenced by the Massport DOT application, it will not happen until Category III landing equipment is installed and operating to ensure as few delayed flights as possible.

An unavoidable circumstance

Although planes being fogged in at ORH more than other airports is exaggerated, it will happen just like it does at any airport. I remember once flying out of Providence on a clear day to Florida. Two miles from the airport that fog was so thick that I could barely see 100 yards, and my flight was delayed 12 hours.

The worst-case scenario is that we go to Worcester and are driven one hour to another airport, assuming that is open. Not a big deal especially since we already are driving an hour to fly out of Boston and Providence. My overall point is that leisure travelers can handle these delays much easier. The key is how JetBlue handles it and I am sure they will handle it smoothly and people will understand.

Here is what we can hope for in the short-term:

  • JetBlue adds more Florida destinations
  • Spirit to Myrtle Beach
  • Allegiant to Florida destination not serviced by JetBlue

Bottom line: we can thrive as a leisure airport with direct flights to Florida destinations, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Myrtle Beach and Las Vegas. Until we get the Category III Landing system installed, I do not see shuttle flights to any hubs. Click here to watch a plane land using Category III landing system.


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