Shuttle America, US Airways In Deal

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Boston, Mass. (AP by Justin Pope)--Shuttle America will become a US Airways Express carrier and add five round-trip flights out of Hanscom Field in nearby Bedford, where activists have tried to block airport expansion.

The airline, which had been operating flights between Hanscom and Trenton/Mercer County, N.J., will fall under the US Airways umbrella and add five roundtrips daily between Hanscom and the US Airways hub in Philadelphia.

The agreement will allow Shuttle America passengers to make seamless connections onto US Airways flights, buy tickets from US Airways agents and earn frequent flyer miles with the airline. US Airways now has similar marketing arrangements with 10 carriers, including three it owns.

``I think if anything the events of Sept. 11 indicate that travelers are looking for alternatives like Hanscom Field,'' said Shuttle America spokesman Mark Cestari, referring to the terrorist attacks that leveled the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. The company, which has filed for bankruptcy, is in the process of being purchased by Greenwich, Conn.-based Wexford Capital.

In June, US Airways said it would not add Hanscom service because of community opposition to expanded flights. Activists are seeking to block the airport's growth, claiming it would cause noise pollution and threaten nearby historic sites.

``We believe that the people in that community in the Bedford area are going to be given new choices for travel, alternative choices to Boston,'' said US Airways spokesman David Castelveter. ``And we believe that brings great value to the people in this community.''

Windsor Locks, Conn.-based Shuttle America is currently the only airline operating out of Hanscom, but other carriers are interested.

The Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Hanscom, has been pushing the airport as an alternative to Boston's crowded Logan Airport, but has been frustrated by the opposition.

The site is near Minute Man National Park, site of some of the fighting on the first day of the Revolutionary War.

Margaret Coppe, president of ShhAir, a group opposing expansion, said she was disappointed with the news and worried it would give US Airways a foothold for further expansion at Hanscom.

``The citizens who have been steadfastly opposing commercial passenger operations out of Hanscom continue to do so,'' she said. ``We feel that this is not the place for a commercial passenger airport.''

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press