Manchester makes its bid for AirTran

Low-cost air carrier AirTran Airways wants you to vote for which city it should add to its routes — and Manchester is one of 49 possible locations.

The Atlanta-based airline is looking to expand its 50-destination network and is seeking the opinions of travelers through an online survey at

Kevin Dillon, director of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, said he thinks the Queen City’s chances are as good as any of the other cities.

“We’re very interested in having AirTran serve the Manchester area,” said Dillon. “We’ve been talking with them for a number of years, and it does take a long time to start service in a new city.”

He said that Manchester has been “very fortunate” to have another low-cost carrier, Southwest Airlines. “They are part of the airport’s success,” said Dillon. “We’d like to round out our menu of services to keep things growing.”

He said AirTran needs to see that the local community is supportive and could provide a sufficient passenger base.

“We really need to put our best foot forward. We’re encouraging every one to vote for Manchester and send their family and friends to the survey as well,” added Dillon.

In an e-mail, Robin Comstock, executive director of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, urged her members to do just that. “This is a good opportunity for the greater Manchester business community to rally behind the airport’s ongoing efforts to attract new airlines and new nonstop destinations to New Hampshire. As an important economic engine for the entire state, additional airlines and new nonstop destinations would provide a significant benefit to us all,” she wrote. “If we can generate a groundswell of support from air travelers for AirTran service coming to New Hampshire it would certainly assist the airport’s on-going recruiting efforts.”

Other cities on the survey include Burlington, Vt.; Portland, Maine; Hartford, Conn.; Providence, R.I.; as well as larger metropolitan areas such as Chicago-O’Hare; Phoenix, Ariz.; and San Diego, Calif.

AirTran has not announced the deadline for the survey nor when the city that has been chosen will be revealed.

Judy Graham-Weaver, manager of public relations for AirTran, said the name of the city chosen by the airline will be announced “before the end of the year.” with service to begin sometime in 2007. — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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