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Tue, Sep 02, 2003

Having Fun, Poking Fun

Harrisburg International Chips Away at BWI's Inefficiencies

It's not a fair fight, of course: Harrisburg (PA) International (there's a daily flight to Toronto) is merely trying to get its local folk to at least consider flying from HAI to a handful of popular hubs and destinations.

Though no 'discount' airlines fly out of Harrisburg, a few really desirable destinations, and useful hubs, are served by the carriers there: in addition to Toronto, there are flights to hub airports at Chicago, Denver, and Dallas, for instance; and convention/vacation spot Orlando is on the list, as well.

HAI is trying to lure locals, using a twinge of sarcasm. One billboard, over an hour's drive (on a good day) from Baltimore, says, "Flying out of BWI? Line Starts Here." If you were driving, stuck in traffic and savoring the thought of meeting TSA's finest, in their 'showcase' airport, would that have an effect?

Try, "Sure, BWI can take you to faraway places. Like Lot Z," or "My, the gestures you learn on the way to BWI."

It's not that Harrisburg, even as its $220+ million refurbishment progresses, is going to close down BWI, or even Philadelphia -- it's just, as the Baltiomore Sun reported, "What I'd like to do is stop the exodus out of the state of Pennsylvania," as it quoted Alfred Testa Jr., director of aviation for the Harrisburg airport.

Testa, and airport-management maverick himself, would like to snag a few of the people who leave Pennsylvania's capital, and the regions to the west and north, as they head to the airport. He pointed out the time savings; and the hassles, coupled with the extra expenses (from parking to hotel stays) that sometimes accompany a trip to the big airport might be enough to persuade 'his' people to use his airport.

Even though Harrisburg does not have Southwest and Air Tran (as does BWI), Testa figures his people's time is certainly worth a couple bucks an hour... As it turns out, Northwest, USAirways, and United have all dropped fares at HAI, to match the most-popular advance fares to comparable cities out of BWI.

FMI: www.flyhia.com

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