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City airport opens new flight to US.

Byline: Ed Stephens

BIRMINGHAM International Airport chief executive officer Paul Kehoe today urged air travellers to turn their backs on Heathrow and Gatwick and fly from Birmingham.

He spoke as the first US Airways flight to Philadelphia took to the skies.

Mr Kehoe said airlines like British Airways had tried to persuade business travellers in the Midlands to use its services from London airports by offering special deals and even free flights in some circumstances.

But he urged businessmen and women as well as leisure travellers to support Birmingham by using services like the new US Airways one.

"It has taken months of negotiations and a lot of work to get this service to the USA from Birmingham and we want to make sure people use it," he said.

"Driving to Heathrow probably costs something pounds 1.30 per mile when you take into account petrol, wear and tear etc. Then there is more expensive parking. It makes sense to fly from your local airport.

"Having US Airways on board to Philadelphia will help us to welcome home some of the 60 per cent of the region's travellers who punish themselves by driving miles along motorways to other airports hours away." Mr Keyhoe added: "We are grateful to US Airways for their confidence in starting this service in a difficult economic climate." The new flight will operate five times per week using a Boeing 757 with 176 seats, including 12 business class seats. On the inaugural flight today there were 130 passengers.

Stephen Raeder, US Airways managing director customer service, said : "We are very pleased with the bookings for our new service and as people tend to book flights later nowadays, I am sure these numbers will grow."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:May 13, 2009
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