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Mercer Countys New Flight Plan

Delta Air Lines’ subsidiary Comair could start service from the airport by ThanksgivingEWING -Soon there will be another way to leave Mercer County.

The county and air carrier Comair have entered into an agreement to have jets of the Delta Air Lines subsidiary fly out of Trenton-Mercer Airport before the end of the year.

The plan has won approval from county freeholders and awaits action from the Federal Aviation Administration. Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes says he hopes to have flights running by Thanksgiving.

“I’ve always been a strong advocate for a healthy mix of commercial, corporate and private aviation,” says Hughes. “We believe the addition of Comair is a great thing for the Mercer County economy and where we are going in the future. It will increase economic opportunities and open up the area to the world.

Under the agreement, Comair will provide service from the airport for three years, with two three-year options to extend service based upon mutual consent. The deal includes a 180-day “out” clause for both Comair and Mercer County.

The airport is currently served by Boston-Maine Airways, a Pan Am subsidiary. It offers five daily nonstop roundtrip flights to Hanscom Air Field in Bedford, Mass., a suburb of Boston, and one connecting flight from Bedford to Portsmouth, N.H. The Trenton to Bedford route is Mercer’s most successful route, according to the Pan Am Clipper Connection.

Boston-Maine Airways will add two daily nonstop flights to Elmira, N.Y., beginning Sept. 12, and one nonstop flight to Baltimore-Washington International Airport beginning Sept. 19.

Comair is proposing three roundtrip flights daily to Logan International Airport in Boston and one roundtrip flight a day to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The carrier would operate 50-seat, twin-engine CRJ-200 aircraft made by Canada’s Bombardier.

Atlanta has connections to 93 cities worldwide, while Logan connects to 17 different cities. This would give Mercer County residents a wide range of travel choices without having to fly from Newark or Philadelphia.

“We are confident that our service will bring substantial value to the Trenton community by stimulating trade and increasing the ease with which local business can reach destinations around the world,” says W. Blake Poole, general manager of public affairs for Delta.

Hughes says that once Comair arrives, “People can literally check their bags at Trenton-Mercer Airport and pick them up in Paris or Chicago or anywhere else Delta flies. We certainly think we have an untapped market here in Mercer County.”

He says the agreement will generate more than $300,000 in fees to the county per year, and could result in 10 to 20 new jobs.

E-mail to ecooper@njbiz.com

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