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SHUTTLE AMERICA WILL ADD A FLIGHT TO BOSTON, CUT TWO OTHER ROUTES

Shuttle America will add a nonstop flight to suburban Boston but eliminate service to Long Island's MacArthur Airport and Wilmington, Del., as it seeks to attract more business by focusing on successful routes.

The Connecticut-based airline also will begin offering a daily, one-stop flight to Greensboro, N.C.

The new schedule will start Feb. 13, a spokesman for the airline said.

The changes are the latest of several Shuttle America has made to its routes and schedules at Buffalo Niagara International Airport in the past year.

The airline launched service here in November 1998, with flights to Hartford, Conn., Wilmington and Norfolk, Va. Later, it dropped Norfolk and added Trenton, N.J., Albany, MacArthur Airport in Islip and Hanscom Field in suburban Boston.

The airline provides service to midsize cities that have lost service or been hurt by expensive fares, as well as to satellite airports near large cities, while avoiding head-on competition with major carriers such as US Airways.

"It's a good sign any time a low-cost carrier makes a change in routes in order to stay in Buffalo," said Ron Luczak, director of marketing for The Travel Team, a Buffalo travel agency. "It shows the carrier has a commitment to continuing service."

While Shuttle America will lose customers who travel to and from Wilmington and Islip, the airline's service will improve in cities that remain on its routes, said Mark Cestari, Shuttle America's vice president for marketing and communications.

"We just decided to offer more flights to fewer places," Cestari said.

Dropping flights to the Wilmington airport, which is about 30 miles south of downtown Philadelphia, leaves Hartford as the only original destination from Buffalo that the airline maintains.

But consolidating operations at Trenton, 30 miles north of Philadelphia, makes good business sense, Cestari said.

By eliminating Wilmington, Shuttle America will no longer have to maintain two offices in the Philadelphia area and can better compete with the major carriers in that market, Cestari said.

While Shuttle America was satisfied with the number of passengers traveling to Islip, the route wasn't cost-effective, Cestari said.

Buying advertising in the New York metropolitan area to promote the Islip service proved too expensive, with just two flights to Buffalo each day, he said.

Another factor was JetBlue Airways, a new low-fare airline that will begin flying between Buffalo and New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport on Feb. 17, he said.

In the meantime, Shuttle America is getting an excellent response to its flights to Hanscom Field, located about 12 miles northwest of Boston. The Buffalo-Boston route has been one of the airlines' top two routes since the service began Sept. 28, Cestari said.

Originally, the flights to Hanscom Field included a 20-minute stopover in Trenton or Hartford, and some flights even required two stopovers. Now, the airline offers six flights to Hanscom each weekday, four of them nonstop.

The passenger loads on flights between Albany and Buffalo, while picking up, are still below what the airline hopes for, Cestari said.

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