Moncton to Newark – a 10 year hurdle passed

Ever since I have lived in Moncton and before, there have been serious discussions about getting a direct flight from Moncton to some key hub in the United States. Local business people, residents and pontential investors in to the community all stated that getting here was a serious hassle. In fact, some companies that visited Moncton from the U.S. took all day just to get here.

Yesterday, the Greater Moncton International Airport announced that Continental Airlines would be offering a direct service from Moncton to Newark on the outskirts of New York City. Newark is a hub airport offering connections to dozens of U.S. and international connections.

Here’s a quote from the press release:

“New Brunswick is one of Canada’s fastest-growing U.S. tourism destinations with about 500,000 thousand visitors a year,” said Alex Heiter, manager, Scheduling and Planning, Continental Airlines. “By connecting Moncton to Continental’s hub in Newark, travelers from New Brunswick will have the most convenient connections to U.S., Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.”

There are many reasons why this is excellent news. Here are a few:

1. It makes Moncton much more accessible for international businesses and tourists

2. It means more competition which means more competitive prices for travel outside Canada.

3. It means that visitors can get here (and we can travel out) with in most cases only one connection instead of two.

4. It means that we know have a highly viable option for international travel. Instead of flying west to Toronto, we can know fly south to Newark and connect to Mexico or Brazil.

5. It solidify’s the airport as a ‘hub’ for air traffic. For too long in this region there have been too many airports. New Brunswick still has more airports with scheduled air services than Ontario (on a per capita basis). Consolidating air travellers – even if they have to drive 2 hours – makes more sense in the long run. Flying from Miramichi to Toronto, then connecting to a U.S. hub and then flying on a regional plane to the final destination is much more time intensive than driving to Moncton, flying direct to Newark and connecting to the final destination. And it is cheaper too.

6. Finally, it’s a key feather in the economic development cap of the community. Many communities have had to buy in airlines with guarantees of passengers (i.e. Delta in Fredericton) but as I understand it, no ‘ticket trust’ or any other guarantees were offered to Continental. They are here for the business case, period.

Now, I think the time is right for the airport to dust off another old idea. That being the establishment of a shuttle bus service that would run from Northeastern NB to the airport and possibly from central Nova Scotia. I am not suggesting a loss leader but someone should take a look and see if there would be a serious business case to set this service up. One of the unknown attributes of the Pearson Airport in Toronto is that it services a local market in the GTA that spans 2-3 hour radius around the airport. Passengers from Waterloo, Kitchener, Oshawa, Hamilton, etc. are brought in on cheap shuttle buses that pick them up at their door. It may seem odd that these cities with populations greater than Moncton have no airport to speak of but the truth is that the more consolidation of air traffic you can achieve the better outcomes for the whole region (in terms of competition, flight choices, destinations, etc.).

Congratulations to the airport for landing this strategic and vital service. Congratulations to Enterprise Greater Moncton for the support role it played.

Watch out, folks. Right under our noses, Greater Moncton is growing up. 15-20 years ago this was a community reeling from the closure of the CN Shops – which at its peak employed some 25% of the non-services workers in all of Moncton.

You’ve come a long way, baby.

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0 Responses to Moncton to Newark – a 10 year hurdle passed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Uh-oh, skating on thin ice again. Underneath all that fanfare for the airport was a very clear ‘let’s close all the other airports in the province’. It wasn’t said outright, but there were certainly plenty of hints, too many to even repost. Economic development is one thing, ED at the expense of a nearby city in the same province sets an ugly example.

    No doubt that kind of thinking is popular in Moncton, not so much in Fredericton or St.John. Of course lots of people already go to Moncton, because it’s far cheaper than Air Canada flies into Fredericton. However, if Canjet or Westjet were ever to change to Fredericton (as they have been known to do in other provinces) you can bet people in Moncton would start screaming.

    Per capita means nothing, simply because there are hardly any people in New Brunswick. There are really only three airports in New Brunswick, I’ve never heard anything of the Saint John one, but in Fredericton it’s hardly even an airport, and wouldn’t be at all if it weren’t for Air Canada flights. I don’t think we need to really count northern NB airports as they really have only local traffic.

    However, your information is somewhat misguided. Waterloo has an international airport, as does Hamilton and London. These are cities that are within an hour or so (1 1/2 to London) of Toronto. However, southern ontario is far more urbanized than NB.

    I doubt local taxi services are unaware of the opportunities in ‘shuttles’. The difference between a shuttle and a car is simply more people, and I seriously doubt that a substancial number are going to northeastern NB. If a taxi company were noticing six or more people all going to the same area then I’d assume they’d have the brains to buy a van and offer a cheaper price. Tourists generally rent a car, and how many business people are headed for Rexton or Jacquet River?
    I just emailed ‘van-go’ shuttle service, which is a shuttle between Halifax and Charlottetown to see why they don’t include Moncton-obviously distance isn’t the main issue.
    I’m suspect of the ‘fastest growing’ tourism location remark, these guys will say anything at press conferences. However, technology is making smaller airports more viable and Moncton IS central (doesn’t mean people are going to stay in Moncton though-the ugliest city in the maritimes to my mind).
    With an american airline flying in, it would be worthwhile finding out where all those people are going, if large groups are going to the north, east, Fredericton, or St.John, then there might be a shuttle business for an entrepreneur. Let’s see what the Nova Scotia shuttle people say-maybe they just never thought of it or can’t be bothered. I very much doubt the numbers are there.

  2. The Virginian says:

    As a frequent US traveller, I am absolutely overjoyed at this long time coming news. Newark is a great hub. The Airport Authority staff (read Joanne Gallant)is to be commended for finally delivering on this file (poor old Mike Walley sure tried hard enough before being cut off at the knees by Frederiction). We have some catching up to do, but this is a great first step. To anonymous, there is no thin ice here. GMIA is on solid ice, my only wish is that the politicians would stop luring people into thinking that there can be more than one airport for the province of NB. Yeah I know not popular thinking is St-John (in particular) since they are making a valiant effort at running their business. Fredericton as the capital of the province is practicly assured of keeping some form of decent service. All good for the south east, but the success needs to reach further. All the more reason for improving our road infrastructure towards Miramichi. As Frank Sinatra would sing:”Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today.”

  3. Anonymous says:

    the 1 NB airport should have been in Sussex…Hatfield’s idea…too bad he did not push hard enough. AC (as a govt entity) was flying DC-10s to all 3 cities near empty at the time.

    PS who would want to visit Moncton as a tourist?

  4. The Virginian says:

    84000 people week ends ago. And that does not include a couple of hundred thousands shopping. But Iunderstand where your at, is a function of where you’re from.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A couple hundred thousand shopping? In Moncton? And we know these are tourists? In September? I don’t think so! Sure, tourists always hop on the plane to head to the closest Wal-Mart or shopping mall! When I travel from New York city or Newark to Moncton-it’s for the shopping! Where else can you find…um, well, what can you find in Moncton?

    I do volunteer editing and am a member of about ten travel message boards online, answering tourism questions about New Brunswick and I don’t think I’ve EVER come across a tourist wanting to see Moncton. Wait, I’m wrong, there was one.

    Whenever I’ve travelled from or to Moncton the flight I’ve been on has seen traffic AWAY from Moncton. The cars are sometimes backed up to get onto the highways heading for Fredericton, Miramichi, Sackville, etc. A flight from Ontario with Westjet to Moncton costs $90 (plus taxes) while Tango to Fredericton costs $250 (plus taxes)-still wondering why people fly there? Keep in mind the vagaries of the market, Toronto just bribed Westjet to move their ‘hub’ to Pearson, and London has basically bought up the traffic that formerly went to Hamilton, which means apart from canada post Hamilton’s airport will soon be a ghost port-after the city plugged hundreds of millions into it. So any city can simply bribe an airline to come to their city.

    As for the airport in Moncton, virtually everybody I know hates it, they charge you more just because they’re fixing it up-virtually every other airport has local taxpayers paying for it to see the increased economic benefits, it seems Monctonians are too damn cheap. Meanwhile the guys who handle security are freaking %^%^%&%, you can’t even park in front of the building for two seconds to drop off or pick up, I’ve never seen an airport so bad. I’m not surprised those in Moncton would want to close all other airports-it eliminates the competition. However, we all know what happens when competition is taken out of the equation-Air Canada anyone?

  6. The Virginian says:

    You can’t go through life crapping on everyone. Greater Moncton as a shopping destination is undeniable. Tourism is not only about foreign tourist. In any event it is only one small part of the economic development puzzle. But you would have to admit that 13 million visitors per year in one location (Champlain Place) is something to build on.
    But back to airports, I know the taxpayers of Greater Moncton (in this case Dieppe) are not complaining about all others paying for the airport improvements. User pay at its best.
    Let’s remember that the Fredericton flight with Delta only happened because the province poured in taxpayers $$$$. At least this one with Continental is based on sound business not influenced by a trust fund. Let the market dictate…free enterprise…only the strong survive…wise local investments.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s called criticism, not crapping, and it’s the whole point of blogging. This isn’t high school, and there’s really no place for ‘our town is best’ kind of analysis, that’s for college sports teams.

    Champlain Place is a monster, but let’s not pretend that no tax dollars went into it, just as it’s silly to argue that no tax dollars go to the MOncton Airport. Nothing of such size gets done without government help. That Moncton is a tourist draw IS undeniable, but with Wal Mart, Sears and a grocery store there you really have to take a close look at the statistics.
    I would agree, the people of Moncton should be VERY happy that users are paying for the improvements. If you’re in Moncton then there’s certainly reasons to be optimistic, nobody said it wasn’t a tourist draw-EVERY place is a tourist draw, the devil is in the details. However, an airport is certainly NOT the free market, there isn’t one in the world that was built from private sources.

  8. Anonymous says:

    How quickly we forget:

    “In 1988 CN closed its locomotive shops in Moncton, throwing thousands out of work and forcing the federal and provincial governments to step in with economic restructuring packages to diversify the Moncton economy. Moncton was so despondent at one point in the late 1980s, prior to the changes having a positive impact, that it’s official motto was Moncton – We’re OK”

    It was in large part due to the two levels of government that Moncton got turned around, hopefully Monctonians won’t begrudge the same effort being made to other areas of the province.

  9. David Campbell says:

    Amen to that last point. We need a stronger Saint John and an economic renaissance in Northern New Brunswick. Fredericton will always be okay as governments rarely downsize (public servants are one of the fastest growing sectors in the past year).

  10. Anonymous says:

    you forgeot to mention strip clubs…they draw alot of tourists as well…

  11. Anonymous says:

    I just recieved a couple of emails from “Square One” shuttle service. They have a shuttle that goes between Moncton and Halifax once a day, however, they have no plans on expanding into strictly New Brunswick routes.