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US Airways to double Buffalo-Boston flights In response to JetBlue's lowest round-trip price of $128 to Boston, US Airways is charging $118

Buffalo area fliers are in for a Beantown bonanza as US Airways plans to double its menu of direct flights to Boston's Logan International Airport.

On the heels of JetBlue's March 17 announcement that it will introduce three daily, non-stop flights to Boston starting June 30, US Airways is upping the ante by going to seven direct flights on weekdays, as of June 19. The airline currently flies three daily round-trips between the two cities.

US Airways will also ramp up its Sunday schedule, going from three to five non-stop flights. The changes will increase the airline's weekly flight count from 19 to 40 on the Buffalo-Boston route.

The traditional airline is rolling up its sleeves on the fare side, too, answering JetBlue's lowest round-trip price of $128 with a $118 counter punch. US Airways current cheapest ticket on that route is $217.10 with walk-up fares exceeding $600.

Ronald H. Luszak, marketing director for Travel Team Inc., one of the area's largest travel agencies, said this battle is terrific for travelers.

"The Boston routing has traditionally been US Airways' exclusively and they are looking to protect their turf," Luszak said. "This is a true price war and the real winner is the consumer."

Andrew Nocella, US Airways vice president for schedule planning and alliances, said the enhanced service will benefit flyers on both ends of the Buffalo-Boston route.

"The increased flights offer an abundance of convenient times, permitting travelers to be flexible with their plans," Nocella said. "With 40 flights to choose from, this new schedule will boost the options for both the business and leisure traveler."

US Airways, which was recently unseated as the No. 1 carrier at the Buffalo Airport after a decades long reign, had been departing Buffalo at 7 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays.

When the new schedule kicks in, flights will also take off at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Sunday flights will leave at 3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. under the beefed up schedule. The airline will continue with a single Saturday flight departing Buffalo at 7 a.m.

Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Executive Director Lawrence M. Meckler said he's continually pleased with the growth of service at the Buffalo airport.

"We're ecstatic to see the growth and the benefits for our customers. This is good, old-fashioned competition," Meckler said.

The Buffalo airport, which saw a record-setting passenger year for a third consecutive year in 2005, was pegged for a 5 percent increase in 2006. But Meckler now says that number should push higher.

"We made that estimate before JetBlue's announcement and before US Airways came in with this expansion. 2006 is going to be an excellent year," he said.

US Airways will use its 50-seat Embraer 145 regional jets on all the flights, with service provided through its stable of US Airways Express carriers.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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