Since 2010, thanks to critical capital investments, private-public partnerships, and new ownership, Worcester Airport has experienced a rebirth and is poised for continued growth.
In the past, Worcester Airport struggled to maintain airline service and was unable to make infrastructure improvements necessary to attract airlines. That changed in 2010, when the the Massachusetts Port Authority assumed ownership of the airport.
Massport has made significant investments in the airport and has committed $70 million in capital improvements over the next five years, including the CAT III landing system. This system will allow planes to safely land during bad weather, rather than be diverted to another airport.
Massport leveraged relationships with airlines that serve Logan Airport to market the benefits of Worcester. That effort resulted in a major victory when JetBlue began two flights per day from Worcester to Florida in 2013. JetBlue was the first major air carrier to offer service in almost a decade. Almost 120,000 passengers flew the Worcester JetBlue service in 2015. Early numbers from 2016 show that number will grow.
The airport is wisely pursuing a diversified growth strategy that focuses on general and corporate aviation too. Over 90 percent of air traffic is due to general and corporate activity. Recently, Rectrix, a private operator, opened a $5 million facility at Worcester Airport that provides corporate aviation services, private charters, and aircraft maintenance. This private investment validates the airport’s strategy.
Airports generate significant economic activity and jobs in our communities. Worcester Airport is no exception. A report by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation found that Worcester Airport generated $46.5 million in economic activity and was responsible for 360 direct and indirect jobs.
Boston has a stake in Worcester Airport’s success too. Logan Airport has limited expansion possibilities. In the future, Worcester can be an alternative for domestic flights, allowing Logan to attract more long-haul and international routes.
The recent successes at Worcester Airport demonstrate that the efforts of the private and public sectors are working, and that Worcester Airport’s best days are ahead.
Murray is the president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the former lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. Davey is the former Massachusetts secretary of transportation.