Randell: Don’t sleep on this big airline touching down in Worcester

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If you are involved in fantasy football you will certainly know what I mean by “sleeper picks.”

Bill Randell

Bill Randell

For the uninitiated, these are the players pegged by experts — usually leaning on a bit of inside information — to come out of nowhere, or exceed expectations, and make a significant impact on your potential success.

And it’s always fun to make a call on an up-and-comer and have it pan out. A review of some recent picks starts with a big win — for me, and for Worcester!:

  • Rectrix Aviation moving their fleet from Hanscom to Worcester Regional Airport (to make way for the General Electric fleet in Bedford) opened the door for ORH to be the originating point of a proposed daily commercial flight to Baltimore Washington International Airport, Rectrix announced last month.

There’s still hope for these:

  • JetBlue expands service with flights to the Florida Gulf Coast (Fort Myers) and San Juan, Puerto Rico. New York City will happen, too, but not yet.
  • Allegiant Air returns to Worcester with flights to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and St. Petersburg, Florida.
  • Dow Corporation begins twice-weekly shuttles for its Marlborough employees between Worcester and Midland, Michigan.
  • UPS moves from Boston to Worcester.
  • We really like our Worcester to Cuba idea — but it’s looking more like “no cigar” on that one.

More from Randell: More reasons to put city DCU ownership on ice

Almost time for this week’s Rectrix-level sleeper pick. But first, a little more suspense:

Worcester Regional Airport

Wikimedia Commons/Terageorge

Worcester Regional Airport

For a long time I have wondered why Spirit Airlines, the “ultra low-cost airline of the Americas,” does not come to ORH. They have done quite well at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (in Latrobe, Pennsylvania), very similar to Worcester, with flights to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers and Myrtle Beach.  They could slide to Worcester with flights to Fort Myers and Myrtle Beach and do quite well, but they have shown little-to-no interest in ORH.  Need to put them on the back burner.

What about Southwest Airlines?

They fly out of Manchester, Providence, Hartford, Portland and Boston. Can they really afford to let JetBlue have Worcester to itself? Keep this in mind:

  • Worcester has CAT III [category III instrument landing system] coming online next year
  • $8 million of recently approved runway improvements
  • The success of JetBlue and its possible expansion

If Southwest sits back and does nothing, JetBlue could potentially own Central Massachusetts and pull from all its surrounding catchment areas. If you think this sounds crazy — like one too many discount airlines in the hen house — check out the Walgreens across the intersection from the CVS on Stafford Street [Editor’s note: Or the distance between Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, like, everywhere].

All of this officially makes Southwest, for my money, the ultimate 2017 sleeper pick for ORH.

It’s been 20 years since Southwest began flying out of Providence. It flies to 36 destinations now and is the number 1 airline at T.F. Green Airport. Although Southwest has spread its service across — so far — four other airports in the region, it still carries the most passengers at Green.

It only makes sense for Southwest to take a closer look at Worcester. The best part? Southwest usually likes to start with at least 4 or 5 destinations — unlike JetBlue, which has comes in with two and hopes to build upon that.

As Donald Trump might say, 2017 is going to be huge for Worcester Airport — and Southwest may be a tremendous part of our future.

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.

2 thoughts on “Randell: Don’t sleep on this big airline touching down in Worcester

  1. Don’t bet on any airlines sticking around Worcester. As in the past you have get the people of Worcester to use the service which they never did over the long haul.

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