Worcester Regional Airport

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Worcester Regional Airport
Worcesterairport logo.jpg
Worcester Airport Aerial.jpg
Summary
Airport typePublic
OwnerMassachusetts Port Authority (Massport)
OperatorMassachusetts Port Authority (Massport)
ServesWorcester, Massachusetts
LocationWorcester, Massachusetts
Elevation AMSL1,009 ft / 308 m
Coordinates42°16′02″N 071°52′33″W / 42.26722°N 71.87583°W / 42.26722; -71.87583
Websitewww.massport.com/worcester-airport
Maps
A map with a grid overlay showing the terminals runways and other structures of the airport.
FAA diagram
ORH is located in Massachusetts
ORH
ORH
ORH is located in the United States
ORH
ORH
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 7,001 2,134 Asphalt/grooved
15/33 5,000 1,524 Asphalt/grooved
Statistics
Departing passengers (12 months ending Sept. 2017)54,000
Aircraft operations (2017)36,032
Based aircraft (2018)74

Worcester Regional Airport (IATA: ORH, ICAO: KORH, FAA LID: ORH) is three miles (5 km) west of Worcester, in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The main property lies within municipalities of Worcester and Leicester, with supporting facilities in Paxton. Once owned by the City of Worcester, the airport has been owned and operated by the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) since June 2010.[2]

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

Downtown Worcester, with Worcester Regional Airport terminal in the background

Worcester's entry into the world of aviation began in 1925, when city officials commissioned a study to examine sites for the city's first airport. On the list of sites was land owned by a wealthy local citizen, Whitin Whitall. In 1927, Whitall, independently of the city commission, set up an airport on his land in North Grafton, 500 feet (150 m) above sea level. This two-runway airport opened for leisure travel on October 12, 1927.[3]

As air travel became more popular, airport expansion was the subject of a second study commissioned by the city. The Grafton airport was deemed too small to accommodate the air travel needs of the region. The location of the present airport, Tatnuck Hill, on the borders of Worcester, Leicester, and Paxton, was high on the commission's list. One problem noted by the commission was the weather: at 1,000-foot (300 m) above sea level, the Tatnuck site was often surrounded by fog. Despite this problem, the city eventually chose Tatnuck as the new site, and construction began in 1944. The airport was ceremoniously opened on May 4, 1946, and started regular passenger service one week later on May 10, 1946. The Grafton airport remained in operation until 1951, when the owners, due to the dwindling traffic, decided to dismantle the airport. The land was redeveloped as a residential neighborhood.[4] Leicester Airport, a small private airfield also built during the first half-century of aviation, was active until the 1970s. It still sits, now mostly overgrown in the shadow of Worcester Regional.[5]

Millions of dollars were spent replacing the old terminal, which hosted a half-dozen airlines before its demolition. In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, major carriers, such as Piedmont, Northwest Airlines, Continental, and USAir all flew mainline jets into Worcester. In addition, smaller carriers, like New York Air and Presidential Airways also had jet service. The small terminal had two ground level jetways built to accommodate the growth. One by one, those carriers left. A succession of second-tier air carriers has come and gone over the last decade.

2000–2020[edit]

Allegiant Air returned commercial service to ORH with flights to Orlando/Sanford, FL (SFB) on December 22, 2005, and expanded to four flights per week in March 2006. Allegiant announced on August 22, 2006, that they would cut ties with the airport, citing high fuel costs and passenger loads in the 80% range as the reason for departure. The announcement of flights ending took people by surprise as service was popular and well-regarded by the flying public throughout Allegiant's entire tenure at the airport.[6]

On September 4, 2008, Direct Air announced they would begin service to Worcester beginning in November 2008, with flights from Orlando/Sanford, FL and Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, FL. The flights were originally operated by Virgin America using Airbus A320 aircraft. However, Direct Air was required to return the aircraft in June 2009 to suffice Virgin's rapidly expanding domestic routes. At this point, Direct Air began operating flights using Boeing 737-400s owned by Xtra Airways. Due to this being a wet-lease agreement, there were times where the aircraft was unavailable and other aircraft had to be chartered for the flights. Such examples include service with Airbus A320 from USA 3000 and Boeing 757 from North American Airlines. In March 2009, Direct Air added additional flights to Myrtle Beach, SC. In July 2010, Direct Air expanded their Worcester service further to West Palm Beach, Florida. The airline had further plans to launch flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico and Nassau, Bahamas, but in March 2012 Direct Air suspended all operations and later filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on April 12, 2012.[7]

On April 3, 2013, JetBlue announced daily flights to Orlando, Florida and Fort Lauderdale, Florida starting November 7, 2013.[8] This came after over a year of negotiating with the airline that included a competition among local residents to help advertise the city. This became the first mainline service out of Worcester in over a decade. The airline currently uses the 100-seat Embraer 190 for their flights, although occasionally they are substituted for the 162-seat Airbus A320.

A revamp of the defunct airline Air Florida had planned to fly out of Worcester at the beginning of 2015 as a scheduled charter operation. However, the airline never got off the ground.[9]

Worcester Regional Airport in 2014

On November 17, 2015, Rectrix Aviation opened a new FBO building and hangar in Worcester. Rectrix also launched flights between Worcester and Cape Cod in the summer of 2017 with their newly established commercial airline operation, Rectrix Shuttle.[10][needs update] After two summers Rectrix replaced Worcester with Westchester County Airport on their route map ending the service after two summers due to low demand.

On February 28, 2017, JetBlue announced it would expand its service at the airport, adding a daily non-stop flight to New York City. JetBlue did not provide a start date, but airline officials said the new flights would not begin until after the landing system operational.[11][needs update] The first revenue flight to New York left Worcester at 6 AM on May 3, 2018. Despite the same reliability found at Logan with the new landing system flights to JFK after three years have been 40-50 percent full.[12] Although JetBlue has currently suspended all flights due to COVID-19, they have announced intentions to return to full schedule in the future. However, after October 1, 2020, they are not required to do so.[13]

On April 9, 2018, American Airlines announced it would begin daily non-stop service from Worcester to Philadelphia on October 4, 2018. On June 4, American Airlines announced it would add a second daily flight and would be changing the schedule of the initial flight.[14] The service would operate twice-daily on 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145s.[15] Despite the efforts to add an additional frequency, Piedmont announced in February, only four months into service, a reduction to only one daily flight, starting in June 2019 due to low demand.[16] American has since ended service to Worcester as of June 2020.

On August 28, 2018, Delta Air Lines announced it would begin daily non-stop service from Worcester to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, operated by Delta Connection, which began on August 1, 2019, using 50-seat CRJ-200s.[17]

2020–present[edit]

On January 25, 2020, Delta announced it would also begin cutting back flights dropping its Saturday flight due to low demand. There was initially speculation that the Saturday flight might return in May, but the future of service remains uncertain, with Delta experiencing 50-60 percent loads to Detroit.[12]

Currently, as with airports across the rest of the country, Worcester is concentrated on the return to service prior to COVID-19. JetBlue has suspended service indefinitely, while American has once again removed Worcester from its route map and ended service after only two years.[18] Delta is currently the only airline operating out of Worcester to maintain minimum service through the CARES Act. Although JetBlue has announced intentions to return in the future, both Delta and JetBlue are no longer required by the government after October 1, 2020 once the CARES Act expires.

Massport[edit]

The airport had been under an operating agreement with Massport, the Massachusetts Port Authority, for several years. Under the agreement, the city and Massport paid the operating deficit together.

  • July 1, 2004 – June 30, 2005 – Massport pays 100% of operating deficit not including debt service
  • July 1, 2005 – June 30, 2006 – Massport pays 85% of operating deficit not including debt service
  • July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007 – Massport pays 68% of operating deficit not including debt service[19]

By law, Worcester had to transfer ownership of the airport to Massport sometime in 2009 or 2010.[20] As of July 1, 2010, Massport became the owner and operator of the airport.

Other uses[edit]

Worcester Regional Airport was used for shooting of the films Captain Phillips, Knight and Day, The Judge and The Sea of Trees.[21]

Facilities[edit]

Airport terminal

Worcester Regional Airport covers 1,000 acres (4 km²) and has two runways: 11/29 is 7,001 x 150 ft (2,134 x 46 m) and 15/33 is 5,000 x 100 ft (1,524 x 30 m).[1] Runways 11 and 29 have ILS equipment.[22] EMAS pads are located at the starting thresholds of runways 11 and 29.[23]

The airport passenger terminal has four gates with jetways and two ramp level gates for regional carriers. The terminal has two baggage carousels and a TSA installed passenger and baggage screening system on the first floor.[24] Two Mirage Express cafes are located inside the airport.

WBZ-TV operates a doppler weather radar station at the airport.

Rectrix Aviation is the fixed-base operator at the airport.

Category III landing system[edit]

On April 28, 2016 Massport approved funding for the installation of a Category IIIb instrument landing system at ORH. The geographic location of the airport, on top of the tallest hill in the city reaching approximately 1,000 feet above sea level, leaves Worcester on average with 40 more days of fog a year than nearby Boston.[25] The installation of the Category IIIb landing system will allow capable aircraft to land and depart in virtually all weather conditions. There are no Category IIIc airports in the United States; it is simply not allowed for safety reasons. The installation of the landing system also included the addition of a jug-handle taxiway at the approach end of Runway 11.

The ILS system was completed in December 2017, and went live on March 19, 2018.[26] Completion of the ILS allowed JetBlue to add a flight from Worcester to New York-JFK, operated with an Embraer 190 aircraft capable of autoland. The same aircraft are used for flights to Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando likewise are also able to use the ILS. However, American's flight to Philadelphia was operated by an Embraer 145 aircraft which was not able to use the newly installed Category III system which lead to many weather cancelations and diversions during their second brief tenure.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

A JetBlue Embraer 190 landing in Worcester

Passenger[edit]

AirlinesDestinationsRefs.
JetBlue Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK, Orlando (all routes suspended UFA) [27][28]

Historical service[edit]

Source: [30]

Statistics[edit]

For 12-month period ending July 23, 2017, the airport had 36,032 aircraft operations, an average of 99 per day: 91% general aviation, 4% scheduled commercial, 3% military and 3% air taxi. In January 2018, there were 74 aircraft based at this airport: 69 single-engine and 5 multi-engine.[1]

At its peak in 1989, Worcester Airport served about 354,000 passengers. In 2009, the airport served fewer than 50,000 passengers,[31] though 107,000 passengers used the airport in 2011.[32]

On June 10, 2016 JetBlue and the City of Worcester celebrated the 300,000th passenger since beginning service in 2013.[33]

In the calendar year of 2019, the airport served over 196,000 passengers, with JetBlue serving about 79% of passengers, Piedmont serving 18% of passengers, and SkyWest serving about 3% of all passengers.

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from ORH (October 2018 – October 2019)[34]
Rank Airport Enplanements Carriers
1 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 29,030 JetBlue
2 Orlando, Florida 28,340 JetBlue
3 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 17,490 American
4 New York, New York 17,430 JetBlue
5 Detroit, Michigan 3,500 Delta

Ground transportation[edit]

Three rental car agencies are located in the terminal building at Worcester Regional Airport. Avis, Hertz, and Thrifty all have concession stands across from the baggage claim.

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA)'s route #2[35] bus connects Union Station, a regional MBTA Commuter Rail, Amtrak, and bus transportation hub in the Downtown Worcester district, with the airport. Union Station is the western terminus of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Framingham/Worcester Line, with eastbound service to Back Bay and South Station in Boston. Additionally, service via Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited Boston section to/from Albany, New York, with connections to Chicago (formerly also the Regional's Inland Route) stops at this location, as does intercity (Peter Pan Bus Lines), (Greyhound Bus Lines), and other local WRTA bus services at Union Station.

The airport presently lacks a direct connection to an Interstate Highway. However, a number of interstate routes such as I-290, I-90, I-190, I-395, I-495, and routes: MA-9, MA-122, and MA-146 provide access through smaller access roads.[36] Travel time to reach the airport is approximately 5–10 minutes after exiting Interstate I-290, Worcester's primary access via interstate highway from the north and the south also with direct access to the Massachusetts Turnpike.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c FAA Airport Form 5010 for ORH PDF. effective January 4, 2018.
  2. ^ Massport (June 22, 2010). "Massport, Worcester Airport Deal Completed". Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MASSDOT). Retrieved June 26, 2010. Cite has empty unknown parameters: |separator= and |coauthors= (help)
  3. ^ Southwick, Albert B. (1994). Once-Told Tales of Worcester County. Worcester: Databooks.
  4. ^ Freeman, Paul (March 13, 2010). "Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Grafton, MA". Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Western Massachusetts. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  5. ^ Freeman, Paul (March 13, 2010). "Abandoned Airfields: Leicester, MA". Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Western Massachusetts. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  6. ^ "Allegiant Air will leave Worcester". Worcester Telegram and Gazette. August 23, 2006. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  7. ^ "Massport media advisory sparks speculation of JetBlue service for Worcester". Boston Globe. April 3, 2013. Archived from the original on November 12, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  8. ^ "Direct Air puts Bahamas, San Juan flights on hold". Worcester Telegram. April 3, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2015.[dead link]
  9. ^ "New airline, Air Florida, announces plans to fly out of Worcester Regional Airport". masslive.com. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  10. ^ lstevens@capecodonline.com, Lorelei Stevens. "Cape Air adds flights in wake of Island Airline's demise".
  11. ^ Vaccaro, Adam (February 28, 2017). "JetBlue to Offer New York-Worcester Route". The Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  12. ^ a b http://aviationdb.com/
  13. ^ https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/talking-points/2020/04/09/jetblue-suspending-flights-from-worcester-providence/8LH13tt6VZ9mYin9fXDlUI/story.html
  14. ^ Eckelbecker, Lisa. "American Airlines adding second Worcester to Philly flight". telegram.com. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  15. ^ Eckelbecker, Lisa. "American Airlines will fly out of Worcester Regional Airport; daily flights to Philadelphia". telegram.com. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  16. ^ https://www.masslive.com/worcester/2019/03/american-airlines-cutting-some-flights-to-philadelphia-from-schedule-at-worcester-regional-airport-starting-in-june.html
  17. ^ "Delta Air Lines will fly from Worcester Regional Airport to Detroit". masslive.com. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  18. ^ http://aa.fltmaps.com/en
  19. ^ "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report" (PDF). Massport. June 30, 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 26, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  20. ^ "Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009, Section 148". Massachusetts General Court. June 25, 2009. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  21. ^ Sheehan, Nancy (March 23, 2012). "Airport taking off with movie industry". Telegram & Gazette.
  22. ^ "KORH: Worcester Regional Airport". FAA Information. Airnav.com. September 23, 2010. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  23. ^ FAA Airport Diagram.
  24. ^ "Worcester Regional Airport". City of Worcester Economic, Neighborhood & Workplace Development. 2010. Archived from the original on February 8, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  25. ^ Quinn, Tom (July 30, 2015). "Worcester Regional Airport wants to be in whole new category - Worcester Mag".
  26. ^ Moulton, Cyrus (April 5, 2018). "Upgraded landing system in place at Worcester Regional Airport". Worcester Telegram.
  27. ^ Palma, Kristi (March 19, 2019). "The 5 cities you can fly to via Worcester Regional Airport". Boston.com. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  28. ^ Vaccaro, Adam (December 7, 2017). "JetBlue's new Worcester - New York route will launch next spring". The Boston Globe.
  29. ^ Eckelbecker, Lisa (July 28, 2019). "Delta set to start flights out of Worcester Regional Airport". The Worcester Telegram.
  30. ^ "Worcester regional Airport carrier history 1946–2012" (PDF). Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  31. ^ Chase, Katie Johnston (June 1, 2010). "Ailing airport seeking its niche". The Boston Globe. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  32. ^ "Briefing: Worcester Regional Airport Economic Impact". Worcester Business Journal Online. January 9, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  33. ^ Petrishen, Brad. "Plane Pull for Autism: Community celebrates Worcester Regional Airport milestone".
  34. ^ "Worcester Regional (ORH) Summary Statistics". www.transtats.bts.gov. BUREAU OF TRANSPORTATION STATISTICS. May 2018. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  35. ^ route #2
  36. ^ "To and From Worcester Regional Airport". MassPort. 2010. Archived from the original on April 14, 2010. Retrieved October 16, 2010.

External links[edit]