June 24, 2008

No More Mickey on the Cheap

By Margaret Menge, Florida Keys Keynoter, Marathon

Jun. 21--It's going to be a bigger headache to take the kids up to see Mickey this fall.

Delta Air Lines announced this week it's discontinuing direct service from Key West to Orlando. The change is to go into effect at the end of summer.

If you want to fly from Orlando to Key West in September, you'll have to go up to Atlanta and back down. Or you'll have to go with one of the other airlines - Continental or American Airlines - and connect through Miami, making your flight from Key West to Orlando at least twice as long and a lot more expensive.

Only about 10 percent of tourists coming to the Keys come by plane, but the tourism industry could still take a hit from Delta's decision, says Harold Wheeler, director of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. Keys-based businesspeople will be more directly affected.

Donna Golan, owner of Key West Travel, says she has a handful of business travelers going up to Orlando every week. They want to get up and down quick - for a one or two-day conference usually - and would rather not connect in Miami. Golan is sympathetic.

"By the time I get up to Miami, I'm done," she says of flying from Key West in one of the 50-seat regional jets run by Chautauqua Airlines, under contract to Delta.

"High fuel prices and regional jets are like oil and water: They don't necessarily mix," a senior VP at Delta told The Orlando Sentinel.

Delta's announcement this week that it's eliminating a number of non-stop flights into Orlando, including the once-a-day, hour-and-10-minute flight from Key West, follows on an announcement earlier this month that the airline is adding direct flights to places like Stockholm (from its Atlanta hub) and Amman, Jordan (from New York's JKF airport).


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Copyright (c) 2008, Florida Keys Keynoter, Marathon

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