The Broome County aviation commissioner believes the proposed merger between JetBlue and Spirit airlines may potentially be good news for the Greater Binghamton Airport.

Mark Heefner said while some may look at the merger and say "there's one less airline," he views the situation "as more of an opportunity."

In an interview with WNBF News, Heefner said "it allows me to talk to an airline that's just merged and is going to look to increase their footprint."

The aviation commissioner said he views it "as an opportunity for us." He noted "somebody's got to feed the larger airlines." He said there are some smaller airlines that are moving forward with additional daily service in the United States.

Airlines have been dealing with big challenges over the past couple of years because of the Covid-19 pandemic that resulted in many pilots and other support workers leaving their jobs.

The industry is working to recover from a period of reduced travel as demand for flights has increased dramatically in recent months. Airlines also are facing additional headaches in dealing with the higher cost of fuel.

Heefner said industry executives are anticipating a "full recovery in 2024." He said if the Binghamton airport can attract service from a smaller airline soon, it could help bolster the chances for additional daily service from a larger airline when industry conditions get back to normal.

Heefner said for now, if the airport can't get more daily flights, the goal is to convince Delta Air LInes to serve Binghamton with larger planes. He said Delta now is using 50-passenger planes for its one daily flight to Detroit. Delta has been phasing out those smaller planes.

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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com or (607) 545-2250. For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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