County Leaders Concerned About New Philly Flights

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Flights from Watertown to Chicago, Watertown's first jet service, were a hit from day one.

Many of them were sold out.

Then, last December, American Airlines and US Airways merged and the new company has told Jefferson County leaders the Watertown flights will now go to Philadelphia instead.

"There were no ifs, ands or buts - Philadelphia or stay home," said county Legislature Chair Carolyn Fitzpatrick.

Airline officials say the switch "rebalances its flights" as part of the merger.

But, Fitzpatrick sees it differently.

"The US Airways execs and CEOs have taken over. Watertown doesn't mean anything to them.  We have to be happy they didn't cut us," she said.

The nearly full parking lot at the Watertown airport attests to the popularity of the current Chicago connection.

Can a Philadelphia connection can be nearly as successful? 

One county lawmaker says yes.

"I wouldn't view this as a negative at all. If anything, it's a parallel move. There is going to be an opportunity to grow this line, just like we did with chicago," said Legislator Jim Nabywaniec.

"I can't believe how many people are saying, 'That's great, I'd rather stay on the east coast," said Fitzpatrick.

Aircraft are a separate question.

The Philadelphia service will start out with 50-seat jets then switch to turbo-props in September - the number of seats is yet to be determined.

Friday, October 31, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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