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We trust — or hope — that the possibly weather-related delay of PEOPLExpress’ first flight into Palm Beach isn’t an omen of things to come. Passengers in small airports around the country are yearning for more direct flights to their favorite destinations and the startup airline is modestly filling that gap.
It wasn’t exactly the way an airline likes to introduce a new flight.
A spokesman for the low-cost carrier said the aircraft was initially delayed in Newark, N.J., possibly because of bad weather, which then hampered its departure from Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport for West Palm Beach.
Some passengers on the flight from West Palm Beach took the delay in stride.
“It’s fine,” said Abbey Harr, a West Palm Beach-based singer with the Central Florida Lyric Opera, who was traveling to visit family in Virginia Beach. “For the price, it’s worth it,” said Harr, who spent about $70 on her one-way ticket.
Others were a little peeved.
“It’s a bit disappointing,” said Jupiter resident Caryn Beninda who was traveling with son Ryan, 8, to visit her sister in Virginia Beach.
Still, Beninda welcomes the new service to Newport News, because no other carrier flies there nonstop from West Palm Beach. News of the launch came just as she was planning vacation. “It was perfect timing.”
PEOPLExpress bears a similar name to a popular low-cost airline of the 1980s that quit operating in 1987. The old carrier — People Express — operated from Newark, N.J., to cities including Buffalo, Columbus, Norfolk and West Palm Beach, until Texas Air Corp. acquired it and merged its operations into its subsidiary Continental Airlines.
Continental did not retain rights to the name, so the new carrier was able to register for it. There’s no other connection to the earlier airline, PEOPLExpress officials have said.
PEOPLExpress began operations June 30 from Newport News with service to Boston, Newark and Pittsburgh. More cities are on tap. The new flight in West Palm Beach is the first in South Florida.
The flight will travel daily except Tuesdays with Boeing 737 aircraft operated by Vision Airlines. Scheduled departure from West Palm Beach is 3 p.m.
“Our market has a certain nostalgia for this airline, and we believe they will be well -received and supported by this community,” said Bruce Pelly, PBI’s director of airports.
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