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Will Rogers World Airport sees significant market expansion
[January 01, 2008]

Will Rogers World Airport sees significant market expansion

(Daily Oklahoman, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Jan. 1--If you weren't going to Will Rogers World Airport to catch a flight this year, chances are you were there for a ceremony celebrating a new nonstop destination.

Month after month -- sometimes even week after week -- it looked like airport officials were announcing yet another new nonstop.

Looks were not deceiving, 2007 was the year of new air service for Oklahoma City.

"We started really cranking out our new service in April," airport Director Mark Kranenburg said.

Although new nonstops began taking off in the spring, the buzz about coming service began long before that.

In January, a Houston-based airline that was unfamiliar to many announced its plans to offer nonstop service from Oklahoma City to destinations currently unavailable without interruption.

By early February, ExpressJet Airlines revealed it would add six new nonstops beginning in April to destinations including Austin, Texas, Albuquerque, N.M., and San Antonio.

The goal of ExpressJet, which once operated as Continental Express, was to bring convenience back to traveling by cutting out layovers that often sap travelers of time and add hours to a journey.

"What ExpressJet is hoping to do is to decrease some of the elapsed time and give travelers some of their time back," airline spokeswoman Kristy Nicholas said earlier this year.

It's been eight months since ExpressJet launched its service from Oklahoma City. Although the company declined to give out individual market information, Nicholas said ExpressJet is happy with how its routes are performing in Oklahoma City.

The Houston airline did cancel service to Louisville and Corpus Christi in other markets, but has not ceased any service in Oklahoma City.

"Oklahoma City is meeting our expectations and we've been very pleased with the services we've received there," Nicholas said. "We're looking forward to celebrating our first year anniversary in Oklahoma City."

ExpressJet wasn't the only airline that wanted to give travelers -- specifically those in Oklahoma City -- the convenience of additional nonstops.

Less than three weeks after ExpressJet announced its six new nonstop destinations, United Airlines revealed it planned to provide daily uninterrupted service from Oklahoma City to the Washington, D.C., area beginning in June. Southwest Airlines followed up two weeks later with an announcement laying out its plans to also provide nonstop service to the Capitol area in August.

It was only three months into the year, and Will Rogers World Airport had secured eight new nonstop for its travelers. Before the end of fall, Delta Air Lines, Southwest and Continental Airlines had established nonstop routes to Los Angeles, Denver and Cleveland, respectively.

Although there's no denying Will Rogers World Airport has had a successful year in terms of securing new service, airport officials are looking for even more success in 2008.

"We're always out there on the forefront advertising our airport," Kranenburg said. "We're still going to advocate attracting new service."

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