Top Stories 2012: AirTran Departs County Airport, Geese Strike JetBlue

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Geese struck a JetBlue flight that departed from Westchester County Airport on April 24, 2012. Photo Credit: Greg Maker
AirTran Airways departed from Westchester County Airport for the final time in August. Photo Credit: AirTran.com

HARRISON, N.Y. — The Daily Voice will lead into the new year by counting down, in no particular order, the top 10 headlines from 2012.

The Westchester County Airport was no stranger to headlines in 2012 as geese struck a JetBlue plane in April, AirTran Airways departed in August and Hurricane Sandy halted airport activity in October.

Shortly after JetBlue Flight 571 departed from the airport on April 24, heading to West Palm Beach, Fla., the plane – with 54 passengers and four crew members – hit the geese. The plane landed safely and no one was injured.

The passengers departed on another flight three hours later at 9:35 p.m. The incident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration, which keeps track of birds hitting planes.

A departure the airport never saw coming was AirTran’s, a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines, which had its last flight at Westchester County Airport on Aug. 12.

“Everybody loved AirTran in here,” said airport manager Peter Scherrer, who added that it had low, competitive rates. “That was a real hit to us.”

The move was made to bring AirTran into the "Southwest network" of flights, a company spokesperson said at the time, due to "customer demand."

The AirTran exit left slots open for airlines to fill, but only one was taken in an October lottery by JetBlue. However, the slot that was filled was not filled by an extra flight: JetBlue transferred one of its flights to a different time slot. 

AirTran had been flying at the airport since 2007. It accounted for 10 percent of the airport's 100 daily flights and was responsible for 300,000 of the 2 million yearly airport passengers. Airport and Westchester County officials were notified of the move Jan. 20.

Scherrer is hopeful that other airlines will fill more slots in the January lottery. Four lotteries are held per year, which allows airlines to switch time slots, add flights and change capacity among other things.

Has AirTran’s departure affected your usage of the Westchester County Airport? Comment below and let us know.

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