by Susan Mikula Campbell
Direct Air, the first low-cost airline to offer flights out of Niagara Falls International Airport, announced two more destinations on Thursday, April 7, this time the airport's first ever international non-stop service to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and to Nassau, Bahamas.
The international flights will begin on Nov. 17, Stan Rydelek, Direct Air's marketing/development director, announced at an afternoon press conference at the airport, while behind him passengers checked in for one of Direct Air's flights to Punta Gorda, Fla.
State-of-the-art jet aircraft will take passengers to Nassau in about three hours, three times a week on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, and to San Juan two times a week on Mondays and Fridays, he said.
The airline also is offering $99 one-way fares on the international flights online through Monday, he said. A $79 one-way special on domestic flights also runs through Monday. Go online at www.visitdirectair.com.
He added that the departments of tourism in both countries have been contacted. "They are very, very excited about sending people here to see one of the wonders of the world," he said.
Henry Sloma, acting chairman of the board of commissioners for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which operates the airport, said he was looking forward to the announcement of the next destination from Niagara Falls, "which I hope is Europe."
He noted that the airport's new terminal was built on the premise that "If we build it, they will come." He called the new flights "a great opportunity" for people in Western New York and Ontario.
Niagara County Legislature Chairman Bill Ross promised development at the airport had 100 percent support from the Niagara County Legislature. He invited businesses to take a closer look at the area around the airport - "We have shovel-ready tracts of land for companies that want to come in here and share in the economic success," he said.
Direct Air has been offering low-cost flights from NFIA for almost four years, starting with flights to its home base in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and adding flights to various Florida destinations. Just last month, Direct Air announced new flights to the Orlando west and Tampa region of central Florida. Although Direct Air was the first at NFIA, Vision and Spirit airlines have since started offering low-cost flights there as well.