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Delta Puts Brakes On Bradley Amsterdam Flight

Hartford Courant

March 28, 2009

It was a short-lived "miracle."

Northwest Airlines has indefinitely suspended its nonstop flight between Hartford and Amsterdam, which had been scheduled to resume June 3 and would have been Connecticut's only direct air route to Europe.

Delta Air Lines, which now owns Northwest, attributed the most recent cancellation to "the challenging economic climate and poor advance reservations."Delta Air Lines decided that the flight is not financially viable at this time, but will be reconsidered as economic conditions improve," a statement issued by Bradley on Friday said.

Global airline traffic is expected to fall this year as businesses and consumers travel less.

Northwest offered a daily nonstop flight to the Netherlands from July 2007 to October 2008. In December, it said it would resume the flight this spring, an event Bradley officials heralded as "a miracle," given global economic conditions, bad then and worse now.

Economic development promoters in the state consider a direct flight to Europe an important asset and rued the latest setback.

"Any time you have something taken away from you it's always disappointing," said R. Nelson "Oz" Greibel, chief executive of the MetroHartford Alliance, a regional chamber of commerce.

A Delta spokeswoman said the airline would re-book passengers on different routes at no extra cost or refund their tickets.

In December, Northwest said the merger with Delta, which created the world's biggest airline, would generate enough passenger volume to support the flight. Fuel prices had also fallen precipitously. And Bradley had promised to chip in $500,000 for advertising and other airline costs. The airport spent "a small amount" of it, said Kiran Jain, Bradley's marketing and route development director.

As the economy worsened this year, few travelers booked reservations, dooming the flight. Delta told Bradley officials of its decision Thursday; the airport disclosed the news Friday.

Bradley's advertising campaign for the Amsterdam flight including billboards and radio ads was scheduled to start next week, according to Jain. Now there's no need for it.

"This is not a reflection so much on the state of Connecticut or a reflection on the airport," she said. "It is truly a reflection on the times we're dealing with. It's the economy."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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