By Bob & Sandy Nesoff
Members: North American Travel Journalists Association
American Society of Journalists and Authors
Talk about making as splash. Austrian Airlines took that phrase to a whole new level with its arrival at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Although it has been a fixture at JFK for many years, Austrian decided that they were missing out on a major market that not only served New Jersey but was equally convenient to most of New York City.
While people in the terminal stood at the windows watching, the first flight from Austria slowly made its way from the runway to the gate. As it swing in for a final approach, two Port Authority fire engines suddenly opened up with their water cannons creating a rainbow shaped water arch through which the aircraft slowly moved.
Looking as though it had just come through a giant car wash, the sleek jet moved the to the jetway connector to disgorge the premier passengers. Others sat back waiting to board while many spent the time in the comfort of the lines lounge.
A small group of visitors were taken on board for a first-hand look at the plane and its amenities. The first thing that registered with the visitors was that the coach section was arguably amongst the most comfortable in the industry. The seats were ample, even for the more than ample American backsides and each one had a video monitor providing a wide range of entertainment.
Moving into Business First opened up a whole new world of luxury. The seats were almost like private compartments; with a push of a button they reclined to any position you wanted and ultimately went flat to provide a good night’s sleep on the trip. Armrests were wide and flat giving those who wanted to use flight time to work space for notebooks and other equipment.
Austrian Airlines will five flights weekly from Newark to Vienna in Boeing 767 jests.
“North America has great potential,” commented Karsten Benz, Austrian’s chief commercial officer. “Our flights have become popular for the routes from the United States to Austria and that is why we have decided to increase the frequency.”
Benz said the airline’s capacity from North Amrica to Austria would grow by about 30%, including hubs at Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare. The airline expects some 130,000 additional passengers this year.
To entice passengers to try the new departure in Newark, the airline is offering double miles rewards in all classes between Vienna and Newark Liberty.
Newark Liberty General Manager Rich Heslin joined with Thomas Scharfenberger, Austrian Airlines Northeastern USA Regonal Director of Sales and Georg Heindel, the Austrian Consul General in a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the new flights.
Almost immediately after the ceremony passengers began boarding for the retun flight to Vienna. Each was given an Austrian pastry as a sign of welcome.
Newark Liberty Airport has become increasingly popular with travelers from the tri-state area, including many from the outer-boroughs who are looking to avoid the traffic jams and crowded terminals at both JFK and LaGuardia.
From Manhattan there is regular train service. Parking at Newark is far less complicated than at either of the other two metro airports. Passengers from Queens and Brooklyn have also found it to be an easy trip.
Austrian Airlines is part of the Lufthansa group and the Star Alliance. That permits passengers to accrue travel miles on any airline in the group.
The new Austrian Airlines Star Alliance Terminal has an extensive range of shops, catering outlets and duty free shops.