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AIRLINE AGREES TO OFFER DISCOUNT FARES FOR BUFFALO TRAVELERS

US Airways, after a meeting with a local air-service delegation, agreed Monday to offer Buffalo travelers seven-day advance-purchase discounts and began a weekend fare sale to several Northeast cities.

"They delivered a good bit of what we were asking for in terms of fare relief," said NFTA Executive Director Richard T. Swist.

"We have more to do for business travelers, and US Airways is willing to work on it."

The changes offer the first tangible sign that US Airways, which dominates the Buffalo air market, is listening to complaints about high air fares and poorer service. The company also will consider offering cheaper flights during off-peak business hours to stimulate traffic.

"They've recognized this community can move some market share to get more passengers on less-traveled flights," said Jean Covelli, a travel expert and member of an air-service committee established by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. "The weekend discounts also are a tremendous shot for leisure travelers who haven't had those opportunities."

NFTA representatives, along with aides to Rep. Jack F. Quinn, R-Hamburg, and state Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco met with US Airways officials at the airline's headquarters outside Washington.

The meeting was a follow-up to a visit by airline executives to Buffalo on June 30. Local leaders asked US Airways to provide some relief for local travelers, particularly businesspeople, and wanted a seven-day advance-purchase option at a minimum.

The seven-day option, which requires a Saturday stay-over, has been available in Rochester and other markets, and gives travelers more flexibility to save money. Previously, a traveler had to book a flight at least 14 days in advance to receive a discount.

In addition to the seven-day advance purchase, the airline also announced that it will offer discounts for travel through mid-December between several upstate cities and Boston, New York LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington National.

The round-trip fares, which will range from $118 to $158, are available only for people leaving on a Saturday and returning on the following Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. They can be purchased up to three days before departure.

The airline also announced a special $118 round-trip fare for people 62 and older for travel on any day to most Northeast markets. The ticket must be purchased 14 days in advance, and requires a Saturday stay-over. That offer covers travel through May 31.

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