Direct Air keeps promise with addition of non stop, low fare service to Melbourne
Service between Niagara Falls, and Melbourne, Florida strengthens leisure appeal with cruice and popular theme park opportunities


Last week, Ed Warneck , President and Managing Partner of Direct Air, attended and spoke at the tourism summit put together by NY Sate Senator George Maziarz whose hope is to find ways to attract more service through their new terminal. As promised by Warneck during the summit, Direct Air today announced at a press conference in Melbourne, Florida the start of new air service from Melbourne Regional Airport to Dulles Airport (Washington DC) and Melbourne to Niagara Falls International Airport (Niagara Falls, NY).


Beginning February 4th, Direct Air will add the new route and begin twice a week flights to Niagara Falls International Airport to Melbourne International Airport and then continue onto Port Charlotte Airport in Punta Gorda/Ft Myers. These flights will operate on Falcon Air MD83, 150 passenger aircraft configured with 12 first class and 143 coach seating. In addition non-stop flights from Niagara Falls International will continue no less than two additional days based on seasonality.

Today’s announcement is good news for the Niagara Falls airport and the region,” said Warneck of Direct Air. “We are committed and focused to work together with the communities to promote the airports in a manner that maximizes its future potential to generate economic growth and opportunity.”

Direct Air plans are synonymous with Niagara Falls Transit Authority to reverse market from the destinations serviced by Direct Air to Niagara Falls. Their goal is to increase traffic and economic impact to Niagara Falls community. Travelers on Direct Air from Melbourne will soon be able to visit the nearby destinations of Niagara Falls, NY including Niagara, Buffalo, Rochester, Ontario, Toronto and other Canadian destinations. This opportunity will soon be enhanced with the introduction of quality vacation packages in both directions by Direct Air.

Direct Air Managing Partner, Kay Ellison said, “We already have a strong Canadian passenger base.” “The opening of an east coast Florida market will only attract and appeal to more passengers who are interested in ‘fly and cruise vacations’ and the already popular family vacations that include visiting the renowned theme parks of Disney, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Sea World and others.” Although an announcement of vacation packages is not yet been determined, Direct Air partners are confident the package program will occur in the first half of 2010.

Bill Vanecek, NFTA Director of Aviation said, “We are excited with Direct Air’s announcement and continued commitment to expand service, especially at a time many aviation businesses are reducing service and parking aircraft.” “With this addition, more flights will bring more revenue and opportunities that will mutually benefit the destinations, Direct Air, and our community.”

“Direct Air has built a strong niche service in developing secondary airports,” said Judy Tull, CEO / Managing Partner of Direct Air. “We’re confident that we can we can build popular flights from Melbourne Regional Airport with our service featuring direct flights, nonstop service, low fares and convenient departure times.”

“Our business model is built around taking the stress out of flying,” said Bob Keilman, Direct Air CFO. “Direct Air flights reduce travel time and eliminate connections with long layover delays.”

“When you add the benefits of convenience and easy pass through terminals offered by the secondary airports we choose to fly between, it easy to see why our business continues to grow and appeal to communities like Melbourne and Niagara Falls.” Keilman went on to say, “The partners of Direct Air this as a good fit and are anxious to grow business, employment, and economic benefits to the region.”

Direct Air currently provides non-stop service between Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Columbus, OH; Newark, N.J., Niagara Falls, N.Y., Plattsburgh, N.Y., Pittsburgh, PA, Springfield, IL, and Worcester, MA. Additional cities are being considered for early 2010. Direct Air also provides non-stop service to Punta Gorda and Sanford, Florida from Allentown, PA, Chicago/Rockford, Kalamazoo, MI, Toledo, OH, Worcester/Boston, MA, Nigara Falls, NY/Toronto, Plattsburgh, NY/Montreal and Myrtle Beach. Direct Air and has carried more than 500,000 passengers since the start of operations in March 2007. The company will begin offering airfares to Melbourne beginning at $99 each way. Direct Air plans to offer special introductory rates to all who register online a Direct Air newsletter announcing special events and sales. Tickets can be purchased by going to or by calling 1-877-432-DIRECT (3473). The Direct Air Corporate Headquarter is located at 1600 Oak St., Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 29577.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will host an open house at the new, state-of-the-art $31.5 million passenger terminal Wednesday, Sept. 2 from 1 to 7 p.m. The whole community is invited to view the new facility first hand, including the customer-oriented passenger processing areas, a two level layout for jet bridge boarding and other advancements.

Military and private vintage aircraft will be on display. A fly-over by the Navy’s Blue Angels is scheduled for 5 p.m. Free parking is available at the terminal, or at The Summit on Williams Rd. Metro Bus will provide free roundtrip shuttles until 7:30 p.m.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority dedicated its state-of-the-art $31.5 million passenger terminal today. It is the major component of an overall $42.5 million NFIA Airport Improvement Project that includes $11 million in apron and landside improvements. At 69,430 square-feet, it is efficient, user-friendly and ready to meet the sophisticated needs of 21st century aviation.

Henry M. Sloma, NFTA chairman said, “Airports are more than transportation facilities. They are gateways. They are a visitor’s first, and last, impression of a region. This new terminal makes such a great impression, it stands as a tribute to the people of this community. This is a landmark in which we can all take pride.”

The creative design of the new terminal reflects the grandeur of the Niagara region, and the wonder in its care. Functionally, the design adheres to guidelines established by the Federal Aviation Administration and International Air Transport Association. Further, the terminal incorporates ‘green design’ for the roof, windows and climate control systems, making it highly energy efficient and environmental friendly. Aesthetically, the roll of the Niagara rapids can be seen throughout the design. Flow – in terms of water, air and passengers – is the central theme.

Lawrence M. Meckler, NFTA executive director, said, “This airport is the culmination of hard work, leadership and foresight of individuals across the region. This terminal is designed for today’s traveling public and anticipates tomorrow’s. As the area continues to grow and prosper, so to will this airport.”

Support for the project came from a number of sources. State Senator George D. Maziarz, Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, former Congressman Thomas M. Reynolds, the Niagara County Economic Development Fund, City of Niagara Falls, Niagara County, the National Fuel Gas Company, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.

NFTA Commissioner and Aviation Committee chairman, Carmen A. Granto said, “Two things are driving economic development in Niagara County: Low cost power and this new airport.”

Thanks in large part to Direct Air, and charter flights, the Niagara Falls Airport generates an estimated $1.5 million economic impact for the region. The improvement project itself generated $120 million in economic activity and helped spur further development in the surrounding area. The airport’s two-gate facility provides for efficient, customer oriented passenger processing, curbside check-in, a two level layout for jet bridge boarding, free Wi-Fi, food and beverage concessions, a federal inspection station, in-line baggage screening, eight stationary ticket counter stations, car rental and a transit center, for convenient access to public transportation. Other amenities include access roads, on site parking, a circulatory road and walkways. The terminal is geared up for big planes and big loads of passengers.

The NFIA is now capable of simultaneously processing international and domestic flights, and fully accommodating 747 and 757 aircraft. The innovative, and scalable, split-level holdrooms provide all passengers with an outstanding level of customer service regardless of aircraft size. The new terminal was designed by Stantec Inc., whose portfolio includes airports in Vancouver, Edmonton, Chicago O’Hare and others. Construction of the terminal was the task of Walter S. Johnson Building Company, a local firm started in 1923. They count renovation of the Crown Plaza Hotel and the Seneca-Niagara Casino and Hotel as two of their most recent achievements.

“Creating this reality was a challenge taken up by the trades people of Western New York,” Sloma said. “The men and women who built this airport have outdone themselves. I hope each enjoys a moment in the future when they point to this terminal and tells a child or grandchild, I helped make that.”

The terminal’s dedication ceremony included the placement of a time capsule, an open house for the general public, a display of military and private vintage aircraft, and a fly-over by the Navy’s Blue Angels. The Niagara Military Affairs Council, who works on behalf of our local military troops from all service branches, lent support to the event. The Ira G. Ross Aerospace Museum arranged for aviation artifacts showcasing the foundation of aerospace history in Niagara Falls. In addition, essay contest winner Brittany Mezhir, a seventh-grader at Lew-Port Middle School, was honored for her Look into the Future of Aviation. Matthew Buerger, senior at Lewiston-Porter High School, was awarded a Space Camp scholarship by the NIMAC. Located within 500 miles of 55 percent of the U.S. population and 62 percent of Canada’s population – and just 15 minutes from the Falls itself – the Niagara Falls International Airport is indeed ready for take off.

The NFTA and Niagara Gazette are sponsoring an essay contest to celebrate the new Niagara Falls International Airport terminal, opening September 2. The last 50 years in aviation history has brought us everyday jet travel, men on the moon and robots and mars. What will the next 50 years bring? Tell us in a 100-150 word essay.

Essays will be judged in two categories: Ages 6-12 and 13-18. Submissions must be typed. All entries should be sent to the Niagara Gazette, 310 Niagara St., Niagara Falls, NY 14303. They must be received by July 15.

Chosen essays will be placed into a time capsule during the dedication of the new Niagara Falls terminal and opened in the summer of 2059. Winners will each receive a $100 United States savings bond and have their essay published in the Niagara Gazette’s commemorative publication.