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Chamber Launches Campaign to Save Low Airfares in Richmond

Flying on AirTran, JetBlue, & eventually Southwest
critical to protecting competitive airfares

RICHMOND, VA, November 30, 2010 — Central Virginia is writing a new chapter in air travel history, and the Chamber of Commerce wants it to have a happy ending. Today the Chamber launched the Save Low Fares Richmond campaign to ensure that competitive airfares remain a part of Richmond International Airport’s future. The campaign theme is “Fly on AirTran and JetBlue or say goodbye to low fares.”

“Low fares are at risk in Richmond,” according to Kim Scheeler, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce. “Competition from low-fare airlines, AirTran and JetBlue, gave Richmond travelers a 40 percent drop in fares since 2005. Unfortunately, these savings will disappear if AirTran and JetBlue leave Richmond.

“JetBlue discontinued flights to New York on November 1,” Scheeler continues, “walk-up fares have increased 230 percent. Those same increases will take effect on flights to Atlanta and other destinations without competition by AirTran and JetBlue.”

The success of low-fare airlines in Richmond is even more important because of Southwest Airlines’ pending acquisition of AirTran, scheduled to occur in 2011. Southwest is analyzing current AirTran markets, including Richmond, to assess destinations and schedules once the merger is completed.

The Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce is leading efforts, including partnerships with local businesses and associations, public speaking engagements and a website (www.SaveLowFares.com), to ensure that travelers support competition by flying on the low-fare airlines. The Chamber is asking individuals, families and especially business travelers to book some of their travel on AirTran and JetBlue to ensure competitive airfares. For more information, visit www.SaveLowFares.com.

Campaign Update

The Save Low Fares campaign is reaching out to the Richmond business community for action, and they are responding by flying on the low-cost carriers more often. AirTran and JetBlue's load factors on their primary business routes- Atlanta and Boston, respectively- are matching or surpassing legacy airline competitors' for the same destinations. Companies and organizations across the Region are aiding in the effort and making a difference. They are encouraging employees to fly on AirTran and JetBlue, even if it's up to $100 more expensive.

In addition, the four major jurisdictions-Chesterfield, City of Richmond, Hanover, and Henrico- in the region have come together and expressed their support for the campaign, each adopting resolutions in support of airline competition and the use of low-cost carriers. And, the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission, the Richmond Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, Greater Richmond Partnership, Retail Merchants Association, as well as campaign champion Greater Richmond Chamber are behind the effort.

We have made significant progress, but there is still work to be done. Richmonders need to keep supporting our low cost carriers so they will maintain and expand their flight schedules. Your support for AirTran now also will send a loud and clear message that Richmond will be great city for Southwest.