Niagara Gazette

December 14, 2006

NFTA: Niagara Falls leader in Myrtle reservations

Cargo operations moving

By Jill Terreri

Reservations for flights to Myrtle Beach out of the Niagara Falls International Airport are beating the number of bookings from two other cities the company plans to fly from.

Myrtle Beach Direct is accepting reservations for flights that will begin in March. The company is also flying out of Newark and Pittsburgh, but the Niagara Falls market has created the most bookings, William Vanecek, director of aviation for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, told the authority’s board of commissioners on Thursday.

The airline, which flies commercial charters and is concentrated on attracting golfers, has not done any advertising, except through its Web site.

They plan to fly twice out of Niagara Falls every week to start, with the possibility of adding flights if demand requires it. The tickets are $99 each way.

In other discussions on Thursday, plans for cargo operations at the airport are progressing, according to NFTA staff.

Vanecek plans to meet with Polar Air Cargo in Washington, D.C. in January to talk about opportunities at the Niagara Falls Airport. The meeting was facilitated by Sen. Charles Schumer.

On another front, World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara is working on contacting local companies that could help fill cargo planes once they leave.

“This is a critical component to the development of cargo operations at NFIA,” Vanecek said.

Drawings for the new passenger terminal will be marked up by NFTA staff and sent back to the architect, Stantec, for final revisions.

Once the drawings are complete, bids will be able to be solicited as soon as the funding is available, according to NFTA Director of Engineering Mike Bykowski.

Once the bids are released, they are expected to take five months to award. A 19-month construction period will follow.

At the site of the new bus terminal in Niagara Falls, brownfield clean-up is one and a half weeks behind schedule because of delays by the Department of Environmental Conservation, officials said Thursday.

In other NFTA news, the state Senate confirmed former Buffalo Common Councilmember Kevin Helfer as a new commissioner, replacing Mary Martino.

In 2005, Helfer, a Republican, ran for mayor of Buffalo against Byron Brown.