By CONNIE LEWIS - 2/12/2007
San Diego Business Journal Staff
Despite earlier projections that businesspeople would be shelling out more money to travel this year due to higher rates for hotel accommodations, rental cars and airfare, they may be in for a break.
A broad $10 increase on round-trip tickets that went into effect by several airlines this month failed after United Airlines pulled back its pricing. Since it was the second time an attempted hike failed and only one fare increase has held thus far this year, analysts predict fares may be stabilizing, at least for the time being.
Another positive sign is that domestic fares during December rose less than 2 percent from December 2005, according to the Air Transport Association.
From the standpoint of convenience, San Diego travelers — accustomed to layovers and connecting flights — got some good news.
Houston-based ExpressJet Airlines said Feb. 5 that it intends to provide nonstop service from Lindbergh Field to Bakersfield; Fresno; Monterey; Boise, Idaho; Omaha, Neb.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Spokane, Wash.; Oklahoma City; and Tulsa, Okla.
The San Diego Business Journal broke the news on its Web site Feb. 1.
“We are pleased to welcome ExpressJet to San Diego and we are excited that they will be adding nine new cities to San Diego’s nonstop domestic air network,” said Thella Bowens, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.
ExpressJet, which also operates flights for Continental Airlines, said that it would offer two flights daily to each of the nine cities, with service rolling out between May and June.
Jim Ream, the carrier’s president and chief executive officer, said that it plans to hire 40 employees locally and invest $300,000 in airport facilities and equipment.
The company’s fleet of 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145 jets have no middle seats, so passengers will be able to have either window or aisle seats. It also offers valet carry-on bag service, snacks on shorter routes and full meals on longer flights, and free XM Satellite Radio.
Ream said the airline’s business strategy is to fill a niche in nonstop service to smaller destinations.
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