By Dominique Goyette-Connerty, Fitchburg State University Intern
WORCESTER – City officials, politicians, and other local leaders, as well as Delta and Massachusetts Port Authority executives spoke of the excitement, pride, and economic value surrounding the addition of Delta Air Lines’ service at the Worcester Regional Airport during a reception held Thursday night at the Worcester Art Museum.
At the celebratory event, held on the eve of the first flight, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito recognized the collective teamwork that went into the collaboration and said the added flight “build[s] on the success that we’ve had” in Worcester, referencing the groundbreaking for Polar Park among other recent accomplishments.
Calling it “a catalyst for economic activity in Central Massachusetts,” Congressman James P. McGovern noted Worcester Regional Airport’s significant increase in economic output from $46.4 million in 2013 to $96.7 million in 2017 – an increase of roughly 109 percent.
This economic growth is expected to continue with the addition of Delta, the third major commercial carrier to offer daily flights out of ORH since 2013. It joins JetBlue Airways Corp., and American Airlines Inc. at Worcester Regional Airport.
Delta’s twice-daily flights to and from Detroit expand the list of destinations accessible from Worcester. Prior to the Aug. 2 inaugural flight, flights from Worcester Regional Airport were already headed to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City; Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla.; and Philadelphia, Penn.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is Delta’s second-largest hub and connects passengers flying out of Worcester with 120 additional destinations across the world.
The added service “really put[s] Worcester Regional Airport literally on the map,” said Lt. Gov. Polito.
“Business today is about dealing with the entire world,” said Congressman McGovern of the added connectivity via the Delta service. “To be able to have an airport that can get you to almost any place in the world is a huge asset not only for Worcester, but for this entire region and this entire Commonwealth.”
The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce organizes its work around three main directives: recruit, retain, incubate.
“You cannot do any of those things unless you have connections and those connections come via transportation,” said Chamber President and CEO Timothy P. Murray. “An entity like Delta brings those connections.”
Transportation connections weren’t the only focus of the night. Cultural connections between the two “resurgent, comeback cities,” as Mr. Murray called them, were also highlighted.
The Brooding Woman, a portrait by Paul Gauguin owned by the Worcester Art Museum, will be loaned to the Detroit Institute of the Arts in exchange for The Postman, a work in the Michigan-based institution. The exchange will take place next spring.
In addition, in recognition of the two cities’ strong manufacturing histories, the City of Worcester was gifted a clock crafted by artists at Detroit-based Shinola.
“We see this partnership between two great manufacturing cities as a symbolic gesture of friendship that will spark tourism between them,” said Congressman McGovern.
Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus announced during the month of August free admission to the Worcester Art Museum will be given to any traveler who flies Delta from Worcester Regional Airport and shows their boarding pass at the admissions desk.
Delta’s inaugural non-stop flight to Detroit, which departed on Aug. 2 at 6 am, took off nearly a year after the commercial airline’s initial announcement of the service.
Coupled with their congratulatory remarks and their excited sentiments, many offered reminders to utilize the airport as a resource. “Use this airport,” advised City Manager Augustus, “it’s amazingly convenient.”
Other program participants included Lew Evangelidis, Worcester County sheriff and chairman of the Massport board; Lisa Kirby Gibbs, president of the board of the Worcester Art Museum; Ed Freni, Massport’s director of aviation; Lisa Wieland, incoming CEO of Massport; Charlie Schewe, director of New England sales at Delta; and Patricia Ornst, managing director of state and local government affairs at Delta.
Dominque Goyette-Connerty is a Fitchburg State University intern. She can be reached via email.