by Susan Mikula Campbell
Niagara Falls International Airport's third low-cost airline, the Florida-based Spirit Airlines, sent its first planeload of Western New York and Canadian residents to Fort Lauderdale at 1:55 a.m., on Friday, Jan. 28.
Because of the early morning departure time, the celebratory press conference was held the afternoon before.
On this flight, Spirit gets passengers to Florida by 5 a.m.
"You could be on the beach by 6 a.m. and have your umbrella and drink in hand ready to go," said Misty Pinson, Spirit corporate communications director.
The low cost carrier now offers three non-stop flights per week between Niagara Falls International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
In addition, starting on May 5, Spirit will seasonally operate three flights per week between Niagara Falls and Myrtle Beach.
Niagara Falls International Airport is located in both the towns of Niagara and Wheatfield.
"It's great to see another airline coming in here. It's great to see the parking lots full," said Wheatfield Supervisor Bob Cliffe.
"This is just a beautiful airport," said Town of Niagara Supervisor Steve Richards. He added that he hoped inbound flights would be bringing passengers who would spread the word that the Niagara Falls area is "a place to come to visit, shop and do business."
State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, who has long fought for development of the Niagara Falls International Airport and the new terminal, was delighted with the arrival of Spirit.
"This was the right gamble to take. It was the right thing to do to invest in this airport," he said.
He announced that Spirit was known for investing in the communities they serve and to celebrate the airline's debut in Niagara Falls, the company was donating four airline tickets to the upcoming Family and Children's Services auction.
Spirit, based in South Florida, has an all-Airbus fleet that flies more than 150 daily flights to 42 destinations, including the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America. It allows consumers the option of paying only for the features they want. For more information, check www.spirit.com.