Nonstop from Sacramento to Paris? Airport is aggressively pursuing first European airline

Buoyed by a record-setting 2017, Sacramento International Airport officials hope to up their game this year by finally landing a major European airline or two. Their offer: Bring us an international flight –nonstop across the Atlantic – and we’ll let you fly rent-free out of California’s capital for two years. A new county incentive package approved Tuesday in particular targets low-cost European carriers that recently have expanded their service to smaller U.S. airports, including Oakland and others in California. Local airport chief John Wheat said Sacramento has talked recently with several cross-Atlantic carriers, including Norwegian Air Shuttle, which already flies out of Oakland, as well as Condor Airlines of Germany, and Wow Air, a low-cost Icelandic airline that flies out of San Francisco, Portland, Austin and Anchorage. “We are having conversations with all those air carriers, telling them Sacramento makes a great secondary market” because of its convenience and proximity to many Northern California tourist destinations, Wheat said. Airport officials also talked with Asian airlines about the potential for cross-Pacific flights, but say they think those deals are unlikely in the next few years. The county is upgrading the airport’s existing financial incentive package to match similar offers from competing airports. “As we talk to carriers, the incentive program component is one we need to make sure we are competitive,” Wheat said. Sacramento’s airport would temporarily waive airline landing and facility fees and chip in up to $400,000 for marketing and advertising in exchange for nonstop flights to new cities. The waiver period would last 12, 18 or 24 months, depending on the type of new service. The incentives are greater for international flights to other continents, but include inducements for domestic airlines for new North American service. Wheat said the airport has no financial estimate of Continue Reading

Wi-Fi access costly for travelers at LaGuardia, JFK, Newark Airports

Wi-Fi at New York area airports won’t make time fly — it’s too expensive and the free version doesn’t get you far, according to Global Gateway Alliance, an airport advocacy group. At Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports, harried fliers get 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi after watching an ad, but then have to pay $4.95 for an hour of internet or $7.95 for the whole day. But 15 of the nation’s busiest airports allow fliers to connect for free — or at least make them fill out a short survey or view a quick ad before getting Wi-Fi on the house, according to a roundup from Global Gateway Alliance. The distraction of the internet has become an important amenity at a time of long security lines and flight delays. “With customers and security wait times on the rise and delays all too common, 30 minutes of Wi-Fi is not enough,” said Joe Sitt, founder of the Global Gateway Alliance. Roughly a fifth of flights departing from the city’s three main airports were delayed this year through April, according to Federal Aviation Administration data. Outside New York, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and Miami-Dade Airport are the only others out of 20 airports studied by the alliance that charge for internet. Chicago O’Hare charges $6.95 for 24 hours, while Miami-Dade charges $4.95 for the first 30 minutes, $7.95 for the day, with free access to travel sites for car rentals or hotel bookings. The group suggests the Port Authority, which operates the city’s three major airports, look at Detroit or Las Vegas, where fliers have to watch a commercial before getting Wi-Fi access. The Port Authority, which contracts with Boingo Wireless for airport Wi-Fi, started offering the 30 minutes of free internet at its airports in June 2014. A rep for the Wi-Fi provider said flyers have other ways to get online without paying extra. For Continue Reading

Tech startup offers Brooklynites cheap carpool rides to local airports for Thanksgiving trips

LOOKING for a cheap ride to the airport this holiday season? There’s an app for that. A tech startup is offering sharply discounted shared cab rides from Brooklyn to local airports this Thanksgiving. Riders who sign up will be connected with a car service providing Park Slope residents with $21 rides to LaGuardia Airport, $28 to JFK airport and $29 to Newark Liberty International Airport. That’s up to 40% off the normal fee for those spots. The service also works to help pair up people living in other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Despite the reduced fare, business has been slow for Bandwagon, the app run by David Mahfouda and his team of two computer programmers. Last year, he said, 39 people responded, but only eight were able to share four rides. “This year we’re expecting to provide over 100 rides over the holiday,” said Mahfouda, who has relied on social media and word-of-mouth to promote the site. “That’s a 2,500% growth rate!” The firm plans hire two more techies to improve the site, and it’s scheduled to move to a city-backed incubator space in downtown Brooklyn early next year. Ryan Fant, 29, has used the service for several recent business trips. “As someone who goes to the airport a lot, it was a way to support a local entrepreneur and save a ton of money,” he said. “It probably saved me $200 for six flights in early September.” And he’s booked for his flight back home to St. Louis this Thanksgiving. Passengers can download the app, or book online at [email protected] To find cheap events in your area, check out the Daily News Events Calendar. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Direct train to Philadelphia airport closer to reality

A plan to give Delawareans direct train service to Philadelphia International Airport moved a step closer to fruition after federal officials included the proposal in its list of recommended rail upgrades for the Northeast Corridor.The blueprint – which would need a financial commitment from state or local governments – calls for a passenger rail loop to extend from the Chester, Pennsylvania, area to the airport, and then north to University City, Philadelphia, where it would reconnect with mainline tracks.“It would allow people in Wilmington to get on an Amtrak train and go straight to Philadelphia’s airport without having to go through Philadelphia’s 30th Street station,” said Matthew Lehner, spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration.Federal officials for four years have studied how best to accommodate growing demand for passenger rail service in the Northeast at the request of states in the region, Lehner said. The announced recommendations, which carry a cost of $120 billion over 30 years, was the culmination of that work.In addition to the airport rail loop, recommended projects include the construction of additional tracks along the majority of the corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C., to create a four-track system, as well as $40 billion of general maintenance STORY: Wilmington police strategy chips away at crime Editorial: It's bad business to prop up Amtrak The proposed upgrades would shorten train travel times between New York City and Washington, D.C., by 35 minutes to 2 hours and 10 minutes."But the first thing and the most important thing is to bring the corridor back to good condition," Lehner said.Eight regional passenger rail authorities use the corridor as well as Amtrak and four freight railroads.Officials decided on the new projects based on input from Continue Reading

Zipcar expands car rentals to airports

Car-sharing service Zipcar said today it's expanding operations to many major airports, opening new options for travelers who need to get around on the ground.Zipcar, which was acquired by Avis Budget Group in March, will begin renting cars at airports in Los Angeles; San Jose, Calif.; Atlanta; Austin; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Palm Beach, Fla.; and Toronto.It began renting cars at the three biggest New York-area airports — LaGuardia, JFK and Newark — last month. The service has a total of about 10,000 vehicles at the 11 airports, 20 cities and more than 300 universities.Unlike traditional airport rentals of brands such as Avis and Hertz, Zipcar requires customers to pay membership fees and the cost of a rental.Zipcar, which has many college students and city dwellers without cars as members, is "targeting a different type" of renter at airports and not competing with the traditional airport auto-rental companies, says Zipcar spokeswoman Karen Drake.Zipcars can be rented by members 21 and older — unlike traditional airport rental companies, which often require renters to be at least 25.Drake says the service's expansion into airports is aimed at both business and leisure travelers."For the past decade, Zipcar has been delivering on our brand promise of 'wheels when you want them' to members where they live and work," says Zipcar President Mark Norman. "Now Zipcars are available for members where they travel."Zipcar's vehicles can be rented by the hour, which can attract airport passengers with delayed flights looking to get away from an airport for a few hours, Drake says.The hourly rate at airports is $9-$12, depending on airport, vehicle type and membership plan.A USA TODAY check of Zipcar's daily rates shows they could be a cost-saving option for airport renters — particularly for those who book multiple rentals annually.A new individual Zipcar renter, who must pay a $25 application fee and a $60 annual fee, can rent a Honda Civic for one Continue Reading

The trial of Sen. Bob Menendez: What you need to know

Sen. Bob Menendez, a 63-year-old Democrat from Paramus, and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a 63-year-old ophthalmologist from North Palm Beach, Florida, were indicted in April 2015. The government alleges Melgen provided a stream of benefits over several years — including flights on his private jet to Caribbean vacations and more than $700,000 in political contributions when Menendez was seeking re-election in 2012 — to get Menendez to use his office to promote Melgen's personal and business interests with a United States ambassador, fellow senators, a member of the president's cabinet, and other federal officials.Specifically, Menendez is accused of taking bribes to: influence immigration visas so Melgen girlfriends from Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Ukraine could visit him in Florida; pressure the State Department to convince the Dominican government to honor a Melgen-owned company's exclusive contract to screen outbound cargo containers;  stop the Homeland Security Department from donating cargo-screening equipment to the Dominican government; and influence Medicare officials in a $9 million billing dispute over Melgen being reimbursed for administering multiple doses of an expensive eye drug drawn from what were supposed to be single-dose vials.Menendez faces six counts of bribery, three counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy, one count of interstate travel to carry out bribery, and one count of making false statements on his congressional financial disclosures to conceal the crimes. Melgen faces the same charges, except for the false statements accusation.Both men have pleaded not guilty. POLITICS: Menendez seeks corruption trial delays so he can vote on debt, budget in D.C. STILE: As Menendez' trial looms, both parties plot for his seat Menendez has said repeatedly he did nothing illegal and will be exonerated. He and Melgen also filed a Continue Reading

Escape the typical Spring Break crowds with getaways from the Caribbean to the Rockies

While college-age hordes seek out hedonistic delights in Spring Break favorites like Cancun, Miami Beach and South Padre Island, Tex., other destinations are trying to lure visitors with simpler pleasures. The relatively undiscovered Samana peninsula in the Dominican Republic is ideal for family bonding with activities that include whale-watching, cooking classes and horseback riding through tropical rainforests. Samana Bay also is used as a breeding ground for humpback whales, who leap out of the deep blue Atlantic Ocean waters in an effort to seduce the females — and provide dramatic photo opportunities. Sublime Samana Hotel & Residences, which opened last year, offers cooking courses for the whole family with its chef Cristian Baez. While parents and older children participate in preparing light Dominican-influenced salads and fresh fish, young children take care of dessert, baking cupcakes. The hotel, which has 20 lodging options ranging from one-bedroom suites to three-bedroom casitas, is offering a 10% discount off regular room rates for families if booked by March 15. Sublime Samana Hotel & Residences offers cooking classes that bring the whole family together.   For those wanting to stay on the Caribbean side, the 12-cabaña Casa Bonita Tropical Lodge is nestled between two rushing rivers in Barahona. The town is located in a mountainous region in the still unspoiled and secluded southwestern area of the Dominican Republic — and adjacent to the Jaragua-Bahoruca-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, the only UNESCO biosphere reserve in the country. At the base of a mountain, Casa Bonita affords a spectacular view of the Sierra Barahuco Mountains and forests surrounding the property. Just 40 minutes by plane (or three hours by car) from Santo Domingo, the area is known for wildlife watching, with a wealth of bird species, including peacocks, monkeys and many small forest animals. Rates at the hotel, run by Continue Reading

MTA scrambles to restore service

For more information: Latest transit advisories from the MTA New York-area transit agencies were working to restore normal train and bus service for the evening rush after rain caused delays and cancellations this morning, flooding streets and rails and leaving thousands without power. New York City Transit, operator of the country's busiest subway, was trying to restore full service to as many lines as possible. The agency focused on the 4, 5 and 6 trains on the Lexington Avenue Line, and the N, Q, R and W trains on the Broadway Line, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Executive Director Elliot "Lee" Sander said in a televised briefing. "I don't remember this many lines being affected before," said Andrew Albert, an MTA board member and chairman of the New York City Transit Riders Council. "Lines that weren't affected before are now being affected. It was an extreme amount of water in a very short period of time. The sewers and the pumps cannot keep up with it." The authority is "particularly concerned" about restoring service on the B and Q lines, which were knocked out by an "extremely large" tree that fell across tracks in Brooklyn, Sander said. The subway's Queens Boulevard Line was the most affected and will be out for the evening rush hour, which should cause problems for riders on the E, F, R and V trains, he said. Queens Boulevard commuters should consider alternative transportation, and the authority will cancel some Long Island Rail Road trains and add cars while making additional stops to accommodate those riders, Sander said. The authority will study today's flooding problems at the request of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, he said. Widespread Delays The transit agency, which runs the largest U.S. public transportation system, said trains had been delayed or suspended on all 24 subway lines at some point during the morning because of flooding. Fifteen subway lines had restored service as of 3:45 p.m. local time, New York Continue Reading

Has Frontier hit pay dirt at Trenton, Wilmington airports?

Frontier Airlines' experiment with focus cities in Trenton, N.J., and Wilmington, Del., appears to be paying off.The airline announced several new routes from the cities this week, ramping up its presence at two airports where it is the only airline offering regularly scheduled commercial flights. MORE: See all the latest news on Frontier Airlines LOCAL REPORT: Frontier adds Atlanta, Detroit routes from Delaware (The News Journal of Wilmington) From Trenton, Frontier will add three new routes; Cleveland flights begin Feb. 13 while Indianapolis and Nashville service starts April 29 and April 30, respectively. With that, Frontier now will offer nonstop service to 14 different cities from the Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN).From Delaware's Wilmington-New Castle Airport (ILG), Frontier will add nonstop service to Atlanta and Detroit. Once those flights begin on April 29, Frontier will fly from Wilmington to seven destinations.The new routes continue Frontier's efforts to try new, non-traditional bases outside of its main hub in Denver, where the carrier faces stiff competition from both the world's biggest airline (United) and the USA's biggest low-cost carrier (Southwest). RELATED: Frontier Airlines deal to go ahead, buyer Indigo saysThe latest expansion comes as Indigo Partners said late Wednesday that it would go ahead with its plan to buy Frontier, even though it failed to forge a pact with the carrier's flight attendants' union -- something that initially had been a prerequisite for the sale.In coming to places like Trenton and Wilmington, Frontier makes a move to airports that are little-used but sit in the middle of the nation's most-populous corridor. And by choosing airports where there are no other carriers, it's more difficult for rivals like United and Southwest to directly challenge Frontier in the same way they can in Denver. ARCHIVES: Frontier Airlines puts Delaware back on USA's flight map ARCHIVES: Frontier's latest focus city attempt Continue Reading

John Nash, 86, inspiration for the film ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ and wife die in car accident on New Jersey Turnpike: police

Famed mathematician John Nash, whose struggles with schizophrenia inspired the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” died Saturday with his wife in a New Jersey Turnpike car crash. Nash, 86, and wife Alicia Nash, 82, were on their way back to their Princeton home after a trip to Norway to receive an award. The taxicab carrying the couple from Newark Airport was traveling southbound on the New Jersey Turnpike at 4:30 p.m. when the vehicle got into an accident, state police Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Williams told the Daily News. Russell Crowe, who portrayed Nash in the 2001 Oscar-winning film, said he was “stunned.” “An amazing partnership,” he wrote of Nash and his wife. “Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts.” The driver of the Ford Crown Victoria taxi carrying the couple was in the left lane trying to pass another vehicle when the cab veered out of control, according to Williams. The taxi struck a guardrail, as did the other car, a Chrysler. Both Nash and his wife were ejected from the vehicle, Williams said. “Preliminary info indicates that John and Alicia Nash were likely not wearing seatbelts when ejected in turnpike crash yesterday afternoon,” the state police tweeted Sunday. According to the preliminary investigation, Nash and his wife may have been hit by the second car after they were thrown to the ground, authorities said. The taxi driver was identified by as Tark Girgis, 46, of Elizabeth, N.J. First responders pulled him from the wreckage, and he was flown to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick with nonlife-threatening injuries, police said. Girgis voluntarily submitted to drug and alcohol tests, Williams said. A spokesman for the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office said no charges were expected to be filed in the case, according to A female passenger in the Chrysler complained of pain and was taken to Continue Reading