By Robin Lee Michel,
For The Airport News

Officials believe continued growth in passenger traffic indicates that Bradley International Airport is becoming an attractive travel option in the Northeast. (Photo by Robin Lee Michel)

Officials believe continued growth in passenger traffic indicates that Bradley International Airport is becoming an attractive travel option in the Northeast. (Photo by Robin Lee Michel)

Eight consecutive months of increased passenger traffic at Bradley International Airport have officials optimistic that the facility is becoming an attractive travel option for residents in the Northeast.
“We are pleased to see this level of consistent passenger growth over the past eight consecutive months,” said Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon.
The trend began in September 2013 when the number of inbound and outbound travelers rose by 1.9 percent over the same month in 2012. A CAA report detailed the subsequent increases: October, 5.7 percent; November, 3.4 percent; December, 19.7 percent; January, 9.1 percent; February, 10.5 percent; March, 11.2 percent; and April 13.1 percent. May and June statistics have not been released.
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, in Manchester, N.H., T.F. Green Airport in Warwick (Providence), R.I., and Logan International Airport in Boston did not realize similar numbers, according to CAA statistics. Of these three airports, only Logan has seen an increase in traffic, averaging 3.5 percent in January through April over last year.
CAA officials attribute the consistent passenger increase to numerous factors, including increased routes, enhanced customer service and offerings, improved passenger processing times and an improved economy. The CAA also continues to promote Bradley’s accessibility from anywhere in the Northeast.
In 2013, improved route offerings included the addition of American Airlines’ daily nonstop flight to Los Angeles, Southwest Airlines’ three daily nonstop trips to Atlanta, and JetBlue Airways’ daily nonstop service to Fort Myers and Tampa. Most recently, JetBlue introduced two nonstop flights — 6:30 a.m. and 6:35 p.m. — to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on June 17. United Airlines is scheduled to begin flying this October to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
“We look forward to engaging with airlines to continue offering our passengers new and exciting routes,” Dillon said.
Improvements to customer service such as a Frequent Parker program and additional concessions have also played a role in attracting travelers.
Dillon said the economy sets the tone for discretionary funding on travel and its improvement has prompted passenger growth. The increased number of seats and general economic performance are much more important than specific routes, although CAA strives to provide a diverse route menu to travelers, the executive director said.
Passenger processing times have been streamlined at the ticket counter and security. The Pre-Check Program provides expedited screening to passengers who have provided additional personal information prior to arrival. The Known Crew Member program provides separate screening for pilots and crews, freeing up capacity for the public in the standard security lines. At the ticket counters, airlines have been asked to focus on a higher level of customer service.
A major multi-million-dollar project that will transform Bradley’s footprint will begin this year with the removal of the Murphy Terminal, also known as Terminal B, that was constructed in 1952 and deemed obsolete in 2010. A new four-floor transportation center will feature the Consolidated Rental Car Facility, 900 parking spaces, a customer service center and people mover to transport customers to the main terminal.
CAA is marketing the expanded offerings to emphasize the access and convenience of Bradley over Boston and New York airports. “Also we underline the lower cost of services (hotels, dining, etc.) at Bradley compared to Boston and NYC. It is advantageous for businesses to use Connecticut and Bradley as an operating base and travel to NYC and Boston for business,” Dillon said. The marketing focus is also being expanded in certain regions such as Fairfield County and Southeastern Connecticut, which are potential population bases.
“As long as additional seats are added and the economy supports people’s ability to travel, we anticipate a [continued] increase,” Dillon said.

By Robin Lee Michel,
For The Airport News

American Warriors at Bradley. (Photo by Paul Bonneau)

American Warriors at Bradley. (Photo by Paul Bonneau)

In the course of seven years, the dreams of 1,000 World War II veterans have been fulfilled thanks to American Warrior, a nonprofit organization based in Norwich. On April 26, 78 WWII veterans and 20 Korean War veterans made the day trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the National World War II Memorial and other memorials established in their honor.
This most recent trip brought the total to the goal set in 2006 by Connecticut resident Christopher D. , who founded American Warrior. That was the year that he and his wife, Nergina, visited the World War II memorial and noticed there were few veterans of that era present. His own grandfather and six great-uncles never saw the site.
Coutu, who was 30 at the time, did not want the surviving servicemen and women to never have the opportunity to visit the memorial, whatever the circumstances. He was determined that his last surviving family member who served, his uncle Edward Coutu, would see the memorial. Although Edward Coutu was in a long-term care facility, using a wheelchair, the young man vowed to get him to Washington.
“My vision started off with the idea that we could send a few WWII veterans. I wanted to honor them and show that we all can make a difference,” said Chris Coutu,
Coutu himself is a veteran, having served in the U.S. Air , and is still an officer in the Army National Guard. Founding American Warrior and with community support and his own savings, the first Day of Honor was held Sept. 15, 2007, with 100 WWII veterans and 49 guardians — escorts — taking the excursion, his uncle among them.
“Our original goal was to send 1,000 WWII veterans to visit their memorial and we surpassed that with our [2014] trip,” said Sue Ponder, treasurer of the American Warrior board of directors, data manager and primary logistics coordinator.
Day of Honor trips are funded by donations and American Warrior gladly accepts contributions from anyone except the veterans themselves. “We believe that these veterans have given enough,” Coutu said. Guardians, who are family members, friends, caregivers or volunteers, pay $300.
This year, the veterans — whose average age was 87 — were from 53 Connecticut towns, Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts. The oldest traveler was 99 and the youngest was 74. The group included three female WWII veterans, including a Navy nurse. Branches of service represented were Air National Guard, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Naval Air and Navy Armed Guard.
A total of 47 guardians and 35 Navy volunteers accompanied the veterans, which included more than 60 people in wheelchairs. One guardian, Adrian Hendrickson, has traveled on all 10 trips. Among them was Coutu, who since he founded American Warrior served from 2009 to 2013 as state representative of the 47th House District, representing Canterbury, Sprague, Scotland .and part of Norwich.
The day began with the travelers gathering at 7:30 a.m. at Bradley International Airport, where they boarded a chartered U.S. Airways flight, an Airbus 320, and were honored with a water cannon salute. Upon arrival at Reagan National Airport, the plane taxied through a second water cannon salute and was greeted by hundreds of supporters as an orchestra performed patriotic music. The buses were accompanied by a motorcycle escort to the WWII Memorial and a wreath was laid at the Connecticut pillar in honor of those men and women who never made the journey. Lunch followed, and the day continued with visits to the Korean, Navy, Iwo Jima and Air Force monuments.
“It is a 14-hour day for these great warriors, but even when they arrive at Bradley and march to the homecoming of 300-plus people waiting to welcome them home, they are wide awake and loving every minute of it,” Ponder said.
As time goes on, the numbers of Korean veterans wishing to participate are increasing. American Warrior anticipates transitioning the focus of the trips to be on the Korean vets as the numbers of WWII veterans dwindle. Each veteran is allowed to go once.
Presently there are 22 WWII veterans on the list for April 2015. It takes at least six months of planning to contact and organize the veterans and guardians. For this year’s trip, there were originally 103 WWII veterans on the list, but ultimately only 78 participated. The roster was changing up to the final week.
American Warrior is an all-volunteer organization, with 99.9 percent of all the money raised going to support the Day of Honor. Corporate sponsors of the 2014 trip included Five Star supermarkets (ShopRite and PriceRite), Pfizer Employee Grant Match, Cablevision, Northeast Utilities, Naugatuck Bank Foundation, Wal-Mart, Dime Bank and the A&E TV network.
An estimated 2,000 small donations were made. Contributors and fundraisers included Connecticut Town and City Clerks, Enfield Cost of Freedom Walk, Spc. Wil Perez Jr. Golf Classic, Norwich Chapter 3636 of AARP, Red Hat Society, Odd Fellows, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, businesses, individuals, schools, civic organizations and many others. Photographer Paul Bonneau donated his time in documenting the day.
Day of Honor is a huge undertaking, Ponder said. “if it were not for the help and coordination of everyone at Bradley, U.S. Air and TSA [Transportation Security Administration], the day of the trip would not be such a smoothly run event. They are extraordinary and all should be applauded from the top down,” Ponder said.
For the second consecutive year, the Day of Honor continued at a reunion event. On June 21, veterans, guardians and family members gathered at CL&P to watch a video about the trip and reminisce. At the 2013 event, two men who had been best buddies during the war were reunited, Ponder said.
The American Warrior experience has prompted some veterans to share their personal memories for the first time, 60 years after they occurred. “The stories are amazing,” she said.
American Warrior has expanded its mission by establishing Operation Freedom Legacy, Operation Make a Difference and Operation Welcome Home, which promote patriotism, volunteering, sacrifice and freedom. Thousands of schoolchildren have learned about these values through visits to classrooms and veterans have been honored by their communities with parades and ceremonies.
“We [have] succeeded by motivating thousands of students and volunteers to honor these heroes, before it was too late,” Coutu said.
“My only regret is not motivating even more supporters to help us fly another 1,000,” Coutu said. “Unfortunately, many of my WWII friends (all eight family members) are gone. I like to believe their final days were a bit more special because of our efforts.”

WASHINGTON — Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, projects summer 2014 air travel to rise to its highest level in six years, with a record number of passengers traveling internationally on U.S. carriers. About 210 million passengers (2.28 million per day) are expected to fly U.S. airlines from June 1 to Aug. 31, up 1.5 percent from 2013. This includes 29.9 million travelers (325,000 per day) on international flights – an all-time high. Published airline schedules show Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, respectively, as the top five nonstop destinations from the United States.
“It’s a great time to fly, as air travel remains one of the best consumer bargains in America, given its superior speed and affordability,” said John Heimlich, A4A vice president and chief economist. “U.S. airlines are well prepared to accommodate the increased travel demand in the summer months by adding seats and continuing to make customer-focused investments in their product.”
During the first quarter of 2014, nine publicly traded U.S. passenger carriers collectively reported a net profit of $401 million, resulting in a 1.1 percent net profit margin, improved from a collective net loss of $552 million during the same period in 2013, A4A said. Operating revenues rose 3.7 percent year-over-year due in large part to a 1.1 percent increase in the number of air travelers, the equivalent of an additional 21,000 passengers per day. Fuel remained the largest and most volatile cost for airlines, accounting for 33 percent of overall operating expenses.
Despite entering 2014 with about $72 billion of debt and coping with some of the worst winter weather on record, modest financial progress enabled carriers to continue significant levels of reinvestment to further enhance the customer experience. First-quarter capital expenditures for the nation’s airlines totaled $3 billion, on track to meet the $12 billion in reinvestment expected for the full year. Advancements include 1,751 new aircraft, of which 255 are scheduled for delivery in 2014 or the equivalent of roughly one aircraft received every weekday of the year.
“The modest margins are enabling airlines to shore up their balance sheets while accelerating reinvestment in people, products and technologies that enhance the overall travel experience,” said Heimlich. “In the first quarter, airlines did a great job meeting the needs of their customers despite facing severe winter weather, including two of the worst aviation weather days ever recorded.”
Heimlich noted that, while U.S. airline finances are steadily improving, the industry still faces significant financial challenges.
U.S. passenger airlines’ operational performance remained strong, improving from January to February to March as meteorological conditions improved, A4A said. According to the Department of Transportation, from January to March the rate of completed flights rose from 93.46 percent to 98 percent; the on-time arrival rate increased from 67.72 percent to 77.6 percent and the share of passengers having their bags properly handled rose from 99.4 percent to 99.6 percent.

WINDSOR LOCKS — The Connecticut Airport Authority has announced the debut of new daily, nonstop United Airlines service between Bradley International Airport (BDL) and Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) beginning Oct. 15. This addition to Bradley’s route structure continues the CAA’s commitment to provide its customers with a robust menu of service offerings.
“Anytime an airline announces new routes at Bradley, that’s good news for Connecticut and the Greater Hartford regional economy. By offering additional options for airlines, routes and nonstop service, Bradley is quickly becoming the go-to for more and more travelers and tourists alike,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. “In turn, this increase in activity translates to new jobs, economic development and business opportunities for the state.”
“We’re pleased to add new United Express service between Houston and Hartford,” said Jim Compton, United’s vice chairman and chief revenue officer. “The new flights complement our existing service to Bradley from our Chicago, New York and Washington hubs, providing Greater Harford-area travelers with more nonstop flight options, as well as convenient connections via the Houston hub to more than 75 other destinations in Texas, the U.S. West Coast and Latin America.”
“The CAA strives to provide its travelers with access to the nation’s most desirable destinations,” said CAA Board Chair Mary Ellen Jones. “The addition of daily, nonstop United Express service to Houston provides evidence of the CAA’s focus on providing the highest level of customer service.”
“The decision by United to increase its footprint at Bradley International Airport with such a popular route is indicative of the airport’s high standing in the region,” said CAA Executive Director Kevin Dillon. “The CAA will continue exploring these types of opportunities to bolster Bradley’s offerings and connect our passengers to new adventures in our nation’s top cities.”
The flights will be operated by Mesa Airlines using Embraer 175 aircraft with 76 seats — 12 in United First and 64 in United Economy, including 16 Economy Plus extra-legroom seats. Service will begin with the first flight from Houston to Bradley at 3:40 p.m. on Oct. 15. Bradley’s inaugural departure to Houston will begin on Oct. 16 at 7:20 a.m.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at Reagan Washington National. (Photo courtesy of JetBlue)

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at Reagan Washington National. (Photo courtesy of JetBlue)

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy flew roundtrip between Bradley International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on June 19 to celebrate the inaugural flights in JetBlue Airways expanded service at BDL and DCA.
With the addition of flights to Washington, JetBlue offers Bradley fliers nine daily departures, including service to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Malloy took the 6:35 a.m. flight from Bradley and participated in a new conference in Washington before retuning. Besides the Bradley flights, JetBlue also added routes to DCA from Charleston, South Carolina, and Nassau, Bahamas.
The governor, in remarks in Washington, said JetBlue has been a huge success in Connecticut, and welcomed the opportunity to “sample the product.”
U.S. Rep. John Larson, of the 1st District, also participated in the June 19 news conference.
JetBlue also announced two new nonstop routes from DCA — to Fort Myers and West Palm Beach — that will launch Dec. 18.
The new routes and increased frequency follow the allocation of 12 slot pairs to JetBlue by the U.S. Department of Justice as a result of divestitures from the American Airlines-US Airways merger.
JetBlue’s new flights are being operated with the 100-seat Embraer 190 jet.

Introduced in 1988 by InsideFlyer magazine’s Randy Petersen, the Freddie Awards are named in honor of Sir Freddie Laker and have become the most prestigious member-generated awards in the travel loyalty industry. The goal of the Freddie Awards is to give voice to the frequent flyer and to honor the efforts of an industry that counts more than 300 million members. Winners of the 2014 “Freddies” in the Americas, awarded April 24 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle,:
Airline
Best Customer Service — Southwest Airlines — Rapid Rewards.
Best Promotion — Avianca — LifeMiles.
Best Elite Program — American Airlines — Aadvantage.
Best Redemption Ability — Avianca — LifeMiles.
Program of the Year — American Airlines — Aadvantage.
Hotel
Best Customer Service — Marriott Hotels — Marriott Rewards.
Best Promotion — Marriott Hotels — Marriott Rewards.
Best Elite Program — Hyatt — Gold Passport.
Best Redemption Ability — Marriott Hotels — Marriott Rewards.
Program of the Year — Marriott Hotels — Marriott Rewards.
— freddieawards.com

NEW HAVEN — Tweed New Haven Regional Airport’s acting manager, Diane Jackson, has been named to be the airport’s manager on a permanent basis.
Jackson, a Tweed employee for 13 years and assistant manager for five, has served in the acting manager position for the past six months since the departure of former manager Lori Hoffman-Soares.

WINDSOR LOCKS — The New England Air Museum will SOAR into the adventure, stories, simulation and science of flight this summer. Visitors will have the chance to get up close and personal with the museum’s 80 display aircraft. A variety of activities will be offered each day, including build-and-fly challenges, flight science demonstrations, the chance to sit in the cockpit, and using state-of-the-art simulators with real cockpit controls. Additional activities are scheduled for the following weeks:
June 30-July 6 — Build and Race an Air Trolley. In small groups, design and build a trolley that will race down a nylon line. Two trolleys powered by rubber bands and propellers will race each other on two parallel tracks, the faster of the two trolleys will be the winner.
July 7-13 — Build and Race Balloon Rockets. Design a rocket balloon that will move faster than the other competing rocket balloons.
July 14-16 — Zip line Challenge. Given certain materials, design and build something that can carry a Ping-Pong ball the fastest from the top of a zip line string to the bottom.
July 17-20 — Straw Rocket Competition. Design a rocket built around a straw that will fly to a specified target using a compressed air launcher.
July 21-22 — Imagine Our Future Beyond Earth Lego Competition. The museum will provide the Lego bricks that entrants need to participate. Prizes will be awarded by the Museum for age groups 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Start your research today on the many missions NASA has planned to explore our universe beyond planet Earth and imagine the aircraft and vehicles that will be needed to accomplish these exciting goals.
July 23-27 — Parachute Drop. With a given weight, design a parachute that will take the longest to drop to the ground.
July 28-30 — Rotochute. Given a specific drop zone, build a rotochute that will drop to the ground. The slowest wins. Teams compete until a winner is determined for each half-hour slot.
July 31-Aug. 3 — Egg Drop. Design, build, and test a contraption that will protect an egg from breaking when dropped from a height of 20 feet.
Aug. 4-8 — Bottle Rockets. Build a rocket onto an inverted water bottle using materials provided. Given 60 psi of compressed air, design the rocket to launch as high as possible and carry a half cup of water.
Aug. 9-10 — Helicopter 2050 Lego Challenge. Create a helicopter of 2050 that helps overcome today’s global challenges! The museum will provide the Lego bricks. Prizes will be awarded for age groups 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.
Aug. 11-13 — Blimp Maze. Design and build a blimp using a helium balloon that will float at shoulder height. The blimp should be designed to be blown through a simple maze in the fastest time possible.
Aug. 14-17 — Hot Air Balloon Race. Design and build a balloon that will lift with hot air and race it to the ceiling.
Aug. 18-22 — Straw Gliders. Design a glider built around a straw that will glide the longest distance possible in a straight line.
The New England Air Museum is a private, nonprofit educational institution that was organized in 1959. Three large hangars and an outdoor display contain more than 80 aircraft that include the oldest surviving aircraft in the U.S., the 1870 Silas M. Brooks Balloon Basket, andan S-39 Amphibian plane – the first aircraft built in Connecticut by Igor Sikorsky.
The museum is at 36 Perimeter Road (off Route 75) on the north end of the Bradley International Airport airfield in Windsor Locks. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. For more information: www.neam.org, (860) 623-3305,or Facebook at New England Air Museum.

Airlines ranked by 2013 baggage fee revenue:
Rank Airline Revenue
 1. Delta $833,183,000
 2. United $624,821,000
 3. US Airways $527,591,000
 4. American $505,697,000
 5. Spirit $211,961,000
 6. Southwest $143,540,000
 7. Allegiant $112,453,000
 8. Alaska $96,033,000
 9. JetBlue $74,316,000
10. Hawaiian $70,034,000
11. Frontier $69,226,000
12. Virgin America $58,525,000
13. Sun Country $15,581,000
14. Mesa $3,924,000
15. Island Air Hawaii $3,200,000

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, updated May 5, 2014

CROMWELL — Celebrating National Tourism Week, more than 100 Tourism industry advocates from all over Connecticut convened on May 5 at Central Regional Tourism District’s “Spring/Summer Great Brochure Swap.” Representatives of attractions, hotels, restaurants and group tour companies were gearing up for tens of thousands of visitors by exchanging hundreds of visitor guides and brochures and sharing the latest travel news. The event at the Crowne Plaza Cromwell marked the debut of the Central Regional Tourism District’s new Greater Hartford & Connecticut River Valley Visitors Guide.
The Central Regional Tourism District serves 65 cities and towns in Greater Hartford, Connecticut’s River Valley, and Greater New Haven. To download or order any of its visitors guides, brochures, and more information about Central Connecticut, visit www.CenterofCT.com or call (860) 787-9640.

Great Brochure Swap

Among those at the “Great Brochure Swap” were, from left, Frank Collins, East Hartford; Mimsie Coleman, Hamden; Debbie Giantonio and Anne Orsene, Central Regional Tourism District; Maryan Muthersbaugh, Nehemiah Brainerd House, Haddam; and Lorraine Erickson Mancini, Lily House Bed & Breakfast in Suffield.