Delta Air Lines' new nonstop service from Buffalo Niagara International Airport to LaGuardia will give the airport 42 percent more available seats to New York City.
Not only will more Western New Yorkers be able to visit the Big Apple each day, they also will fly in larger jets with first-class cabins and equipped with Wi-Fi -- a first for a regional route at the airport.
"Anytime there are more options to fly and in a better aircraft, it certainly benefits the customers of Buffalo," said C. Douglas Hartmayer, spokesman for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
Delta's new all-jet service, part of the airline's agreement with US Airways to take over its upstate routes, will include 12 daily flights between Buffalo and LaGuardia beginning March 25.
The new route is part of Delta's schedule expansion through its new LaGuardia hub. The airline is investing $100 million to expand the main terminal and to operate more than 100 new flights serving 28 new destinations at LaGuardia.
Executives from the carrier and the airport unveiled the larger aircraft with leather seating during a news conference Tuesday at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
Delta wants to be New York's No. 1 airline, said Gail Grimmett, the airline's senior vice president-New York. "We don't mean New York City. We really mean New York State."
Delta's statewide push includes its six daily flights from Buffalo and larger aircraft. Currently Buffalo Niagara International Airport can accommodate up to 256 New York City-bound passengers. When Delta's service begins, that number will increase to 426. The New York City area has the most flights to and from Buffalo of any other destination.
The new service will offer Western New York new connections, through LaGuardia, to six continents and more than 60 destinations, including Dallas and Denver.
"It's a win-win-win for Buffalo, Western New York and Southern Ontario," said Lee Weitz, assistant director of airport aviation, adding the new service will further enhance the airport's overall growth in recent years.
Delta will continue its three flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. The airline previously didn't have a Buffalo route to LaGuardia.
Delta's expansion into New York came from an agreement with US Airways to boost Delta's flights from LaGuardia. Delta gave up some of its flying rights at Washington's Reagan National Airport for slots at LaGuardia.
The swap included Delta's takeover of US Airways' upstate routes, providing all-jet service to Syracuse and Rochester. US Airways had operated single-class, smaller turboprop aircrafts, common for regional routes. But Delta will replace the turboprop with two, two-class jets.
Another flight to both LaGuardia and JFK will be added in July. The jets will also have Wi-Fi service by summertime, officials said.
Grimmett said the new service came to fruition through the efforts of the airline, the airport and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.
"Delta's service is part of our efforts to grow the Buffalo Niagara economy," Andrew Rudnick, president and CEO of the Partnership, said in an e-mail.
"Frequent flights on safe, quality jets are important as we compete in an increasingly global economy, particularly in our binational region as Delta provides frequent connections through its emerging LaGuardia hub. Improved air travel makes it easier to do business in Buffalo Niagara; we actively support ongoing enhancements to both of our airports and applaud Delta's new investment in our community."