The peak season for Worcester Regional Airport [ORH] begins in December/January.
Any airline planning to come to Worcester wants to be here for peak season and needs at least 60 days to get ready. That means they need to announce plans soon.
On the heels of news that Rectrix Commercial Aviation Services will move its maintenance operations from Hanscom Field in Bedford to Worcester Regional’s new $5 million Aerodome — and bring along its fleet of private jets, and most importantly new jobs — here are some of the other things we are hearing:
- Rectrix could make ORH the originating point when it starts commercial service. Possible destinations being New York City, Cape Cod/Islands and Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, where it has another base of operations, with a stop in Baltimore.
- JetBlue expansion, with flights to Fort Myers, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. We just do not see New York City, which would be best for us, in the cards right now. It will happen, but is a year away
- Allegiant Air to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and St. Petersburg, Florida. Since Allegiant left ORH, the ownership, airport director and the FBO [fixed-base operator; i.e., the guys who fuel, park and maintain the planes for the airport] have changed, while JetBlue arrived and has flourished with daily service to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
- The Dow Chemical Co., which has a 600-employee electronic materials facility in Marlborough, will begin a shuttle twice per week for Dow employees and families between Worcester and Midland, Michigan.
- We still like our Worcester to Cuba idea, but not many other people have jumped on that bandwagon. Et tu, El Tiante??
Truth be told, we made the same JetBlue and Allegiant predictions last year, but with CAT III (an upgrade to a Category III instrument landing system) imminent, this could be the year. In general, we feel 2017 is the year that begins to yield big returns for all the monies that have been invested into the airport by Massport, the FAA and Rectrix.
There is one more component, however — the one that really excites us: UPS.
Massport needs more space for JetBlue and the other airlines that use Terminal E at Boston’s Logan International Airport. [Check out Chris Sinacola’s last experience at “Interminable E.”] Currently, there are numerous plans to renovate the terminal and none of these new plans include one very large tenant: Yep, UPS!
Rumors we are hearing hold that Massport and UPS are looking at Worcester to fly their planes, then transport packages to its hub in Shrewsbury. We need to roll the red carpet out to UPS, just like we did for JetBlue. Why? Look no further than the new Amazon distribution facility in Fall River, where it is looking to hire about 500 people.
Remember there are three parts to every airport:
- Commercial passenger service
- General aviation
Worcester desperately needs the jobs and property taxes that a viable cargo business brings. Invite the leaders of UPS to Worcester yesterday — maybe they’ll call Luis Tiant for us (had to throw that in) — and invite them to Worcester.
Stay tuned, things are really going to get interesting at ORH.
Bill Randell started and operates the local news website Worcester Herald, and is the owner and author of FlyORH, a website dedicated to Worcester Regional Airport. He is also president and founder of Worcester-based businesses Advantage Benefits Group and ABG Real Estate.