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Schumer pushing JetBlue for a Buffalo to L.A. direct flight

Sen. Charles E. Schumer is urging JetBlue to add a direct flight from Buffalo Niagara International Airport to Los Angeles. Currently, no direct flights to California from Buffalo exist.

In a news conference Monday morning, Schumer, with the support of representatives from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and the local business and tourism communities, said adding the route would enhance the local economy, attract more Canadian travelers to Buffalo’s airport and benefit Western New Yorkers.

Allison Steinberg, a JetBlue spokeswoman, said the airline is “absolutely considering the request” and added that JetBlue looks to “grow services wherever there is a demand.”

Schumer, who has a long-standing relationship with the airline, said if JetBlue declines, he will seek out other airlines to add the direct flight.

“This plane,” Schumer explained, while holding a model JetBlue passenger plane, “means many jobs in Western New York. I’m here to ask JetBlue to do it.”

Passengers from Ontario make up 47 percent of those served by the international airport, according to Schumer. He wants to see that number grow. He said his proposal would attract passengers away from Toronto Pearson International Airport. He feels the shorter wait time and cheaper plane tickets at Buffalo’s airport compared with Toronto’s make the proposed route ideal for travelers.

“If we can get this plan off the runway, we have a chance to see the amount of people coming to the Buffalo community take off,” Schumer said.

Thomas A. Kucharski, president and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, applauded Schumer for his push and feels the route would be an “important addition to our economic development toolkit.”

Kucharski noted multiple Buffalo Niagara businesses, like Fisher-Price, Moog and Rich Products – which have manufacturing facilities or headquarters located in California – would benefit from the direct flight access.

Schumer is confident in his relationship with JetBlue. In 2000, at his urging, the airline started offering flights in Western New York.