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JetBlue’s new nonstop service to L.A. is a solid economic boost for WNY

Skies will be a bit friendlier for travelers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport with the announcement by JetBlue that it will provide nonstop service to Los Angeles.

The development takes the airport to another level in attracting Canadian passengers and offering Western New York business and leisure travelers something they crave: nonstop, long-distance flights that greatly reduce the risk of delays.

This is the first direct flight from Buffalo to any point in California, according to Sen. Charles E. Schumer’s office. Schumer, D-N.Y., was instrumental in bringing JetBlue to Buffalo 16 years ago. He has also lobbied for years to bring nonstop West Coast service to the area.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, along with businesses, hotels and the local tourism industry, all stand to benefit by this latest expansion, in addition to the airline. As the senator points out, the flights should attract more Canadian passengers who now fly from Toronto’s Pearson Airport, which is known for its high ticket prices, long wait times and other inconveniences.

Increasing numbers of Canadian passengers have been drawn to the Buffalo airport for lower fares and flight convenience. Our neighbors often spend the night in the growing number of airport-area hotels and, just like travelers who cross the border to shop, air travelers may be inclined to do a little shopping and sightseeing while here.

And the fact of easier travel between Buffalo and Los Angeles may be one more factor that can help lure business here. It also put the California headquarters of the new SolarCity plant under construction in South Buffalo within easier reach.

Schumer has long been an advocate for bringing low-cost airline service to upstate. JetBlue serves Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse and Rochester and several other smaller communities. Southwest also has a thriving business upstate.

The new flights will fill a gaping hole in air service. Schumer noted that Los Angeles is the largest market and most frequent destination that does not already have a direct flight from Buffalo, and Buffalo is the second-largest eastern market without a direct flight from Los Angeles.

Thanks to JetBlue (and Schumer), Buffalo Niagara has become the gateway to Los Angeles for millions of potential passengers.