June 25, 2014

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Specials

  • Worcester to Orlando  $133 July 4

  • Orlando to Worcester  $127 July 9 + 23

  • Worcester to Fort Lauderdale $81  July 16 + 20 + 30

  • Fort Lauderdale to Worcester $167  June  27    $137  July 16 + 22 + 29 +30

  • Updated June 25th midnight

 

 

 To buy tickets go to JetBlueBestFareFinder site (click here).

June 22, 2014

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JetBlue New Service Out Of Washington DC, What About Worcester?

This week JetBlue started service out of Washington’s Reagan National with service to Chareston, SC, Hartford, CT and Nassau in the Bahamas. These slots opened up when American and US Air merged, click here for that story. The same day service started, JetBlue announced two new routes from Washington’s Reagan National Airport (DCA) to the Florida cities of Fort Myers and West Palm Beach that are beginning Dec. 18.

 

 

 

Currently we are doing a great job supporting the Orlando and Fort Lauderdale routes and I feel that there will be more service coming from JetBlue either additional Florida Destinations or Puerto Rico. If these are to become a reality this year, JetBlue will want to be flying to these new destinations for the peak flying season that starts November-December.

In order for Worcester to be up and running for November-December with additional destinations, we need an announcement by the end of August at the latest. If we do not get something by then from JetBlue, I am afraid that Worcester will not be getting any new services this year. At least not from JetBlue.

 

 

 

 

June 5, 2014

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President Obama Coming to Worcester

President Bush visits MacDill AFB

June 1, 2014

2 Comments

Diversions to Boston

Between my wife, daughter, brother-in-law and mother-in-law, we have approximately 10 rounds trips or 20 flights inbound and outbound with JetBlue since inception.  All outbound fights have left out of Worcester but two inbound flights were diverted to Boston.   The first time my brother-in-law, with about 20 other people, were transported back in a Knight’s small bus where I picked him up.   The second time my wife and daughter were able to get a cab voucher with another couple, who lived on my street, and were driven directly to our house in Holden.

The common thread with both of them was that they both told me that there was no very good communication on the ground in Boston from JetBlue as to what exactly was going to happen.  In fact my wife was waiting for a bus when our neighbor spotted here and my daughter and told her that JetBlue needed a minimum of four for a cab voucher, thus they were able to get a cab.   Is the cab voucher always available for a group of 4?  I have no idea, but will try to find out this week.   Personally I do not understand why there can not be a bus close by when this flight is diverted and passengers are bused back getting to Worcester two hours later then expected.     Outbound diversions are known a day in advance and passengers are notified that they need to get their own transportation to Boston.

  • Is this inconvenient?  Yes!
  • Is this a pain? Yes!
  • Is this a reason not to fly out of Worcester?  No!

In our case we have had 18 other flights that have been incredibly convenient (No Traffic-No Tolls-No Tunnels).   Average round trip from house to check in waiting at gate is less then 30 minutes.  The two times inbound flight were diverted, it did take on average 2 hours and 30 minutes from landing in Boston to get to Worcester.   Nobody had to pick them up.   If I had to drive to Boston it would have taken me at least 2 hours and 30 minutes no to mention the traffic, tunnels, tolls and parking to get them.

My point is what is the alternative?   We could have flown these ten flights out of Boston and created our own Boston diversion 20 times.   My point is that we have had our own self-imposed diversion to Boston, Providence, Manchester or Hartford when we did not have commercial service out of Worcester.  The times it does happen it is only a return to the way it use to be for that one flight and we should realize how great it is having JetBlue here, continue to support them and hope the CAT III Landing System gets here sooner then expected.

 

 

 

utbound fights have left out of Worcester but two inbound flights were diverted to Boston. The first time my brother-in-law, with about 20 other people, were transported back in a Knight’s small bus where I picked him up. The second time my wife and daughter were able to get a cab voucher with another couple, who lived on my street, and were driven directly to our house in Holden.

The common thread with both of them was that they both told me that there was no very good communication on the ground in Boston from JetBlue as to what exactly was going to happen. In fact my wife was waiting for a bus when our neighbor spotted here and my daughter and told her that JetBlue needed a minimum of four for a cab voucher, thus they were able to get a cab. Is the cab voucher always available for a group of 4? I have no idea, but will try to find out this week. Personally I do not understand why there can not be a bus close by when this flight is diverted and passengers are bused back getting to Worcester two hours later then expected. Outbound diversions are known a day in advance and passengers are notified that they need to get their own transportation to Boston.

  • Is this inconvenient? Yes!
  • Is this a pain? Yes!
  • Is this a reason not to fly out of Worcester? No!

In our case we have had 18 other flights that have been incredibly convenient (No Traffic-No Tolls-No Tunnels). Average round trip from house to check in waiting at gate is less then 30 minutes. The two times inbound flight were diverted, it did take on average 2 hours and 30 minutes from landing in Boston to get to Worcester. Nobody had to pick them up. If I had to drive to Boston it would have taken me at least 2 hours and 30 minutes no to mention the traffic, tunnels, tolls and parking to get them.

My point is what is the alternative? We could have flown these ten flights out of Boston and created our own Boston diversion 20 times. My point is that we have had our own self-imposed diversion to Boston, Providence, Manchester or Hartford when we did not have commercial service out of Worcester. The times it does happen it is only a return to the way it use to be for that one flight and we should realize how great it is having JetBlue here, continue to support them and hope the CAT III Landing System gets here sooner then expected.

Between my wife, daughter, brother-in-law and mother-in-law, we have approximately 10 rounds trips or 20 flights inbound and outbound with JetBlue since inception. All outbound fights have left out of Worcester but two inbound flights were diverted to Boston. The first time my brother-in-law, with about 20 other people, were transported back in a Knight’s small bus where I picked him up. The second time my wife and daughter were able to get a cab voucher with another couple, who lived on my street, and were driven directly to our house in Holden.

The common thread with both of them was that they both told me that there was no very good communication on the ground in Boston from JetBlue as to what exactly was going to happen. In fact my wife was waiting for a bus when our neighbor spotted here and my daughter and told her that JetBlue needed a minimum of four for a cab voucher, thus they were able to get a cab. Is the cab voucher always available for a group of 4? I have no idea, but will try to find out this week. Personally I do not understand why there can not be a bus close by when this flight is diverted and passengers are bused back getting to Worcester two hours later then expected. Outbound diversions are known a day in advance and passengers are notified that they need to get their own transportation to Boston.

  • Is this inconvenient? Yes!
  • Is this a pain? Yes!
  • Is this a reason not to fly out of Worcester? No!

In our case we have had 18 other flights that have been incredibly convenient (No Traffic-No Tolls-No Tunnels). Average round trip from house to check in waiting at gate is less then 30 minutes. The two times inbound flight were diverted, it did take on average 2 hours and 30 minutes from landing in Boston to get to Worcester. Nobody had to pick them up. If I had to drive to Boston it would have taken me at least 2 hours and 30 minutes no to mention the traffic, tunnels, tolls and parking to get them.

My point is what is the alternative? We could have flown these ten flights out of Boston and created our own Boston diversion 20 times. My point is that we have had our own self-imposed diversion to Boston, Providence, Manchester or Hartford when we did not have commercial service out of Worcester. The times it does happen it is only a return to the way it use to be for that one flight and we should realize how great it is having JetBlue here, continue to support them and hope the CAT III Landing System gets here sooner then expected.

May 21, 2014

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New Airline??

The rumor mill is cranking this morning.welcome to florida  New airline in Florida may be coming together targeting flights from smaller secondary airports in the NorthEast to Gulf Coast.

Stay tuned!!

May 21, 2014

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Montego Bay for $550

JetBlue out of Worcester is alot more then Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO).  From these two destinations, you can connect to many others; for example, highlight-photo-01

 

June 17th

7:10 AM  to 10:19AM   Worcester to Fort Lauderdale

12:17 Pm to 1:06 PM   Fort Lauderdale to Montego Bay

 

June 25th

2:13 PM to 4:58 PM   Montego Bay to Fort Lauderdale

7:50Pm to 10:48 PM   Fort Lauderdale to Worcester

May 9, 2014

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JetBlue bag fees in our future?

 

At least that is my prediction and let me explain why:bags

  1. Ticket prices:  People buying tickets only look at the price.  No way–you say!!  I can not tell you how many people have told me that they bought tickets to fly to MCO or FLL out of Boston-Providence that live in Worcester because the tickets are cheaper.   Other then a couple peak vacation weeks, there is no way that Providence or Boston were cheaper, if you took into account, traffic, time, gas, tolls,parking and inconvenience.  Looking at a computer screen comparing prices, however, people do not think of this. If JetBlue charged for 1st bag then they would be able to have lower ticket prices and sell more tickets.
  2. Allegiant and Spirit:  They charge for bags and their stock have flourished.  Although JetBlue stock has done well the past year, it pales in comparison to these two companies.   Allegiant charges $50 per checked bag and $10 for carry on, while Spirit charges vary but average $50 per bag (checked in or carry on).
  3. Frontier:  They already charge for their drinks, but have announced that they would be dropping prices 12% while charging $25 on average for carry ons.
  4. Delta:  They do not charge for stocks, but they are another airlines whose stock performance has been bettter then JetBlue.   Actually JetBlue may have the worst return for legacy carriers the past 12 months??
  5. Maruster:   He was the COO of JetBlue and was just replaced.  The new COO, Robin Hayes, is going to want to establish herself and no better way to make a statment then to implement a change like this.
  6. Unions:  The pilots just voted to unionize and will need to increase revenues to offset what I assume will be increased pilot costs.

Expect this to be done in the short-term and I was JetBlue stockholder, I would applaud this change.  JetBlue will increase tickets sales, revenues and stock performance!

April 17, 2014

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Vote for Worcester in JetBlue Greenery contest

GoLocalWorcester Link

I received many insightful comments through social media after I wrote this column last week. Here is one I found really good and I wanted to share.

jetblue unloading ORHWe recently flew from Boston to Orlando and I was told by a JetBlue agent every flight goes out 100% full to Orlando. There were a number of standbys that if were given the opportunity to be shuttled to Worcester, would be happy to go.

Does Worcester have any restaurants or newsstands? This is important and if they don’t they need some quickly put up kiosks for the busy summer months to offer food, magazines, etc. Then push this amenity.

Families would most likely be more than happy to be in less confusion and I assume the seating is 2×2 which would be a seller to my husband and I. Do an “I hate the Middle Seat” campaign. Or “Want to avoid the Dreaded Middle Seat”. When possible we fly first class to avoid it.

At the same time, however, I get comments about how expensive the tickets were trying to book one week before Spring Break. Let me take a moment to explain (for the 1,000th time) how Worcester only has 100 tickets per day to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. If you want to travel during high traffic weeks, you need to book early since these tickets will sell very fast. Other then these high volume weeks when flights sell out fast, prices out of Worcester are more then extremely competitive. I truly believe this is understood by the majority.

The one that really amazes me is how people ask, “Why does JetBlue only fly to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale?” Don’t get me wrong, it is good to ask for service to a location that you desire. It shows JetBlue that we want to expand. I think it is pretty simple and a good business plan for JetBlue to start with leisure popular destinations like Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, build these routes up, and then eventually add locations. Do people really expect JetBlue to come to an airport with no commercial service and a track history that is less then stellar with 20+ destinations within 4 months of the first flight?

We are damn lucky that JetBlue made Worcester a JetBlue city and we should support these two routes. I am sure that more destinations will follow.

Ways to show support

Not only is JetBlue a great airline, but they really believe in being a good corporate citizen. Check out some of these sites:

Blue Horizons for Austism
JetBlue Responsibility Report
STEM school support
Community Connection
First Book

Today I would like to talk about their 7th annual “One Thing That’s Green Campaign“ and how we can win it. JetBue asks their customers where they would like to see more greenery and vibrant green spaces in their neighborhoods. Why not Worcester?

Throughout the month of April, you can vote for Worcester on their Facebook page after liking the page. As of April 12th, Worcester was in first place!! Please take a moment to go to the Facebook page, Like the page, and vote early and often for Worcester on the Route Map. The final results will be posted on May 1. Let’s win this contest!

 

April 10, 2014

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Momentum building at ORH

GoLocalWorcester

bob cousy david ortizOver the past couple of weeks, I have written that I have become concerned with the loads on JetBlue’s daily flight to Orlando. Right now, I estimate the loads to be less than 80% on the Embraer (100 seats) to Orlando, while the Fort Lauderdale flight is closer to 90% on the same plane.

Let’s take a look at JetBlue flights to Orlando this past Sunday out of ORH’s sister airport, Boston. I had no idea that there were this many daily non-stop flights to Orlando out of Boston on their Airbus (150 seats). There are 7 daily flights—yes, 7—from BOS-MCO or 1050 seats per day compared to ORH’s 100. The day before departure, there were 138 seats unreserved for a load factor of 87%. ORH’s one flight of 100 out of Worcester has 25 unreserved on its one flight for a 75% load factor.

You can look at this two ways. One could say that Worcester is not performing well not being able to sell out one plane to Orlando with a great airline and very competitive pricing. I have to admit that argument has some merit.

On the other hand, I would argue that we only started on November 7th and it takes time to establish a route. In fact, when I look at the numbers out of Boston, I see it as a positive. Boston has 7 non-stop flights per day to Orlando with their larger plane. Once the Worcester route gets more established, there is a lot of room for growth with just this one route.

Putting aside the one weakness of having no Cat III landing equipment, there are a lot of positives:

·       Airport that is easy to access
·       Great airport itself
·       Cheap parking ($7 per day or $42 per week)
·       Great airline (JetBlue)
·       Very competitive pricing

Getting the word out

Why isn’t Orlando full every day? The answer to me seems to be marketing.

Recently driving around the city, I have seen 4 billboards for Emirates and one billboard for TF Green. There are none on Route 290 or Route 146 for either JetBlue or Worcester Regional Airport. There are beautiful new digital billboards on both of those major highways that would look awesome with JetBlue advertising their service out of Worcester.

This past Sunday there was an ad from Massport that had a picture of Juan Gomez, the past City Councilor and Executive Director of Centros Las Americas. The ad showed how easy it was for him to travel to Puerto Rico out of Worcester. We should continue this campaign hi-lighting passengers frequenting ORH.

I remember when the Worcester Fashion Outlets opened and Judith Light was hired as a spokesperson. Although it may sound stupid, I still remember who the spokesperson was and vividly remember people waiting in lines for her autographed picture.

Worcester Airport needs a spokesperson to let people know Worcester Airport has changed. Here are some of my ideas:

·       Bob Cousy touting how easy it is to fly to Florida out of Worcester.
·       David Ortiz inviting people to visiting his home country, the Dominican Republic, out of Worcester

Let’s bring the humanity back into flying out of Worcester and hire a human spokesperson to get the word out and realize the potential of our airport.

 

 

March 27, 2014

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Housing Development Incentive Plan (HDIP)

gateway citiesOver the past three + years if not longer, we have talked about a Philly Plan that would lock in the current assessed value for a stipulated period of time for commercial development.  Locally this was done with the Hanover, when the assessed value was locked in for ten years.   It sounds great on paper, but it is not as easy as it sounds to get done-Economic Development meetings-City Council approval and Home Rules petitions. 

About a year ago, I read about new legislation that was passed for Gateway Cities called the HDIP that was targeted to promote market rate housing project (2 to 50 units) and would allow cities to “lock-in” or “phase-in” asssessed values over a stipulated time.  Additionally there would be state tax credits for each unit up to $10,000. Something we never ever discussed or imagined!!

The great thing about the HDIP is that the City of Worcester has to only apply listing an area that they want to establish as an HDIP zone, how that area qualifies and what type of incentives that they would be providing.   DHCD reviews the application and if all is in order, we are good to go.   That’s it!!!    In fact, when I looked last year 6 other cities had already had HDIP’s approved (Haverhill-Springfield-Chelsea-Holyoke-Lowell-Pittsfield).

I called “Mick” O’Brien and asked him how we could establish an HDIP in the City of Worcester. We talked and thought it would be best to work through the Chandler Business Association team up with the Chamber of Commerce (Stu) and meet up with Economic Development (Tim-Paul-Jackson) to get put together an application, get Council approval and submit the DHCD. During that time I gave monthly updates at every Chandler Business Association meeting to anyone who attended and there was coverage from the Telegram!!

After 9 months it became official-the City of Worcester has an HDIP, a zone to promote market rate housing (2 to 50 units) that will provide property tax break locally and tax credits at the state level.   Did I do I “jig” this week to celebrate a great collaboration and the success of our efforts?  Yeah I did. 

I have heard many people say why didn’t do this or why didn’t we do that?  Well we could only apply for what has already been approved under the HDIP legislation; for example, commercial property is not the goal of the HDIP.  At the same time, I would argue market rate housing development downtown would benefit all commercial property owners.  Keep in mind there are also many properties that may have a first floor component that is commercial but has residential unites above. 

More importantly developers of “affordable” housing will not be able to reap the benefits from the HDIP.   We are leveling the develop field between “affordable” and “market rate” housing with the approval of the HDIP.    Hopefully this will attract market rate housing to the areas targeted in the HDIP, which is desperately needed.  The “jig” is over, it is time to market the HDIp and get some results.

As far as the Housing Policy goes, nobody has touted the recommendations of the  2002 RKG Study more then.   In fact I pointed out many times this one paragraph from their recommendation section:

The City’s policy to use the many CDC’s to develop more low income housing should be reconsiderd. While their renovation work has help stabilize some of the neighborhoods, especially at a time when the redevelopment was needed, their subsidized development has alientated some local builders/ developers. Another alternative to renovating these three deckers would be to thin out selectively some of these buildings and make the sites ready for single for new single family homes in a townhouse style, and market the sites to private developers for construction. The CDC’s in the future should be considered more of a developer of last choice..

Two years ago when the City of Worcester was talking about a new Housing Study, I forwarded the RFP to RKG to make sure they knew about it.   They were awarded the bid, completed a new study and I agree with all their recommendations.  

I know that it is important that we have more meetings on this Housing Study, but can I suggest that the passage of the HDIP does not “mothball” the study, but actually will help the recommendations in the study become a reality.   Lower property taxes locally and 10% of the project credited back  is not a pimple on a “donkey’s arse”.   

Lastly I do recommend that “we sit back and drink a few martinis”, we market the hell out of the HDIP and use this example of a collaboration to advance more program like the HDIP.   I think Mick O’Brien,  the Chandler Business Association, the Chamber of Commerce and Economic development  deserve a “that a boy” not an “oy vey”.   

Bill

Boston Globe editorial that I like