Delta to end non-stop service between Roanoke and New York - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Delta to end non-stop service between Roanoke and New York

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It was a little more than a year ago that Delta began offering a daily, non-stop flight between Roanoke and New York-La Guradia.  But it's been a turbulent road for the airline since.

"Delta was seeing loads that were about 70 percent empty," said Jacqueline Shuck, Executive Director of Roanoke Regional Airport.  "Airlines aren't in the business of flying 70 percent empty."

Shuck says one of the key issues with the flight is its schedule.  The plane departs from Roanoke early in the morning and arrives from New York late at night.  Many passengers, she says, prefer to take a one-stop flight to New York via Charlotte, Washington DC, or Philadelphia during the day.

Roanoke Regional helped market the flight over the summer in hopes of getting more people on it.  But ultimately, Delta wasn't seeing the numbers it wanted -- and recently told airport officials it would be ending the service in mid-February 2014.

"We hate to lose any service," said Shuck.  "We work very hard to maintain it.  That's why we tried so hard with an additional marketing initiative on our part in order to keep this service.  But you can't force people to get on airplanes."

Shuck says the airport is in early talks with United to see if it would be interested in offering a non-stop flight to and from Newark.  The goal, she says, is to continue giving passengers direct access to the New York metropolitan area.

"It's a long track, usually, to get additional service," said Shuck.  "But they've been willing to answer the phone and that's always a good start.  So we are working with them right now to see what we can do to convince them we would be a good market for them."

Delta will continue to offer flights between Roanoke and Atlanta, as well as Roanoke and Detroit.

A spokesperson for the airline confirmed their final service between Roanoke and New York will be Thursday, February 13, but declined to comment further.

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