Will JetBlue land in Albany?

Low-fare carrier JetBlue Airways said Monday it is "strongly considering" a proposal by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer to begin serving Albany.
Earlier Monday, Schumer, in a news conference at Albany International Airport, called on the carrier to begin flying here.

JetBlue serves Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Burlington, Hartford, Westchester, Worcester and even Newburgh.
The airline has added nonstop service from the Northeast to Florida cities, and began flying from Washington's Reagan National Airportin 2010.
From Reagan, it flies nonstop to Boston, Orlando, Tampa and San Juan, and plans to add more service, thanks to its acquisition of a dozen pairs of slots that were divested by American Airlines and US Airways at Reagan as part of their merger.
Schumer suggests at least some of those slots could be used for service to Albany.
It's not clear where else JetBlue might fly nonstop from Albany. While Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse all have service to Kennedy International Airport in New York City, the airline has previously told Schumer "Albany's so close it's not economical" to fly.
Washington or even Florida might make more sense, airport officials suggested.
The airport authority also has a package of incentives to attract new carriers and open new routes, including breaks on landing fees, terminal rent and marketing assistance.
On Monday afternoon, JetBlue officials seemed interested.
"While we don't have any immediate plans to serve Albany," said Jenny Dervin, JetBlue's vice president, corporate communications, "we are strongly considering Senator Schumer's proposal."
Schumer and airport officials hope the added competition from JetBlue would drive fares lower. Domestic fares at Albany have increased 27 percent since 2008, while existing carriers have cut seating capacity here by 18.5 percent. Passenger boardings have declined to 1.22 million passengers a year from more than 1.5 million at its peak.
Fares tumbled and business surged at the airport after low-fare carrier Southwest Airlines began service here in May 2000. But Southwest has boosted its fares 66 percent systemwide since 2004. Often, it's no longer the least expensive carrier on a given route.
JetBlue touted a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that found over a five-year period, from 2007 to 2012, the "JetBlue Effect" cut fares by $32 one-way, on average.
"I believe JetBlue landing at Albany International would increase competitiveness at the airport and drive down prices," Schumer said.
The trend to consolidation has been reducing competitiveness.
Delta acquired Northwest, United combined with Continental, Southwest added AirTran, and US Airways is merging with American.
That's left plenty of vacant ticket counter space at Albany, as well as at least two available gates, airport officials said.

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