Wednesday, April 8, 2009

AirTran flights to Orlando

AirTran Airways is joining LVIA this summer, bolstering the regional airport's flights to Florida.

Starting June 25, AirTran will fly nonstop from Lehigh Valley International Airport to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, according to a news release issued Wednesday.

Round trips will cost introductory rates of $168 to Fort Lauderdale and $158 to Orlando. Those figures do not include additional taxes and fees.

AirTran will provide LVIA with its third carrier to Florida.

Glenn Walbert, chairman of the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, called the service "a great option for both business and leisure travelers."

Passenger volume has declined at LVIA for 12 straight months as air travel has suffered though the economic downturn. AirTran will fly to Orlando four times a week and Fort Lauderdale three times a week.

AirTran fills a void with Fort Lauderdale flights, which Allegiant dropped last year. Allegiant also flies to Orlando, while Direct Air connects local travelers to Punta Gorda, just north of Fort Myers.

Earlier this decade, Southeast Airlines provided all local service to Florida before going out of business in 2004.

AirTran flew to Orlando from LVIA in the late 1990s. The airline pulled out in 1998, saying then it wasn't selling enough seats.

AirTran, a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, reported a $273.8 million loss on $589.4 million in revenue last year.

Much of the loss reflected changes in value on its fuel-hedge contracts. The company said it recorded an operating profit in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The Orlando-based airline also flies out of nearly airports in Newark, Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Atlantic City.