Business leaders and local elected officials were both celebrating the announcement Monday morning that for the first time in seven years, flights directly to Albany will again be available from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
OneJet, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, will begin direct flights to and from Albany beginning February 1. Tickets will go on sale beginning January 9.
The flights will occur twice daily, Monday through Friday, according to OneJet CEO Matt McGuire.
"Certainly for folks who have done the drive four-and-a-half to five hours behind the wheel, the ability to do it in less than an hour while being productive and comfortable en route will be tremendous," he said.
John Porcari, a senior adviser to OneJet, likened the new connection between Buffalo and Albany to the opening of the Erie Canal, nearly 200 years ago.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who was among several state leaders present for the announcement, says restoring a Buffalo-Albany flight connection is another sign of Western New York's economic turnaround.
"Seven years ago, when we lost non-stop flight from Albany to Buffalo, that was also the sign that we'd hit rock bottom," Hochul said. "When you hit rock bottom, there's only one way to go and that is up. Today, this announcement symbolizes that not only are we heading up, we've made it to the top. We are now there."
McGuire added that the service will be the first under its OneJet Plus program, which involves larger airplanes than the nine-seaters they've been using for other regional connections.
"We will deploy to this route an ERJ135 (Embraer) aircraft," McGuire said. "It's going to be reconfigured for 30 seats, brand-new all-leather interior. You'll have 30 inches of seat pitch. That's exit row level legroom at every seat."