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TIA to offer non-stop flights to New York City

Posted at 11:38 AM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 22:06:41-04
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Local business leaders are celebrating that after years of trying, Tucson will get a non-stop flight to New York.  American Airlines will start flights to JFK Airport October 7th.
Business leaders expect those flights to bring planeloads of customers here.
Now if you want to get to New York, you can endure a tedious drive to Phoenix for a direct flight from Sky Harbor, or put up with a connection in Dallas or some other city.
But American Airlines will fly direct from Tucson to JFK starting October 7th.
Flights will depart from Tucson at 7:57 a.m. and will arrive in New York at 4 p.m. Flights departing from New York will leave at 5 p.m. and arrive in Tucson at 8:12 p.m. 
To celebrate the announcement Monday, local leaders were brandishing apples, as in the Big Apple, and wearing Statue of Liberty hats.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says,”Once we can get people on a direct flight or a non-stop flight from New York to Tucson we will see more conventioneers, we'll see more tourists, we'll see more business activity."
The Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, and other local leaders have been working for close to two years to get the direct flight.  Chamber President Mike Varney says the flight should help Tucson get business that bypassed it before.
He says, “This opens up, in our view, a world of opportunity for the local hospitality industries, for people to come and sample the wonderful climate that we have here, maybe think about buying a second home here in Tucson and really give Tucson the kind of exposure it needs and wants to the rest of the world."
But to boost Tucson business, Tucson business people had to convince American Airlines a New York flight would be good for the airline's business. Varney says the Chamber and other business leaders worked on that for almost two years.
American's own analysis showed a Tucson to JFK flight would fill enough seats to make a profit.
Joe Hughes of American says, “A lot of passengers go through Phoenix and through DFW and we can track that. He can see where these people are coming and where they're going and so, when you do the math on this it makes sense for us to offer this flight."
To reassure American that it will not lose money, local business and government put up three million dollars in a reserve fund American can collect if profits run short.  But business leaders say the business boost is worth it.  Now they're working for direct flights to Washington, DC.
Connecting flights beyond New York that will be offered by these new flights include Barcelona; Birmingham, England; Boston; Doha, Qatar; Dublin; Edinburgh; London; Madrid; Manchester, England; Milan; Paris and Zurich.
The flights between Tucson and New York will be in Boeing 737-800 aircraft that holds up to 160 passengers.