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January 17. 2014 8:08PM

Manchester airport's D.C. route survives

MANCHESTER — Manchester-Boston Regional Airport will retain American Airlines flights to and from Washington after the airport survived a divestiture required when the airline merged with U.S. Airways, airport officials announced Friday.

Airport Director Mark Brewer credited Gov. Maggie Hassan and the state’s delegation to Congress, saying each wrote letters of support to keep the service operating.

“New Hampshire is very fortunate to have such an engaged, collegial and supportive delegation of policy makers,” he said in a statement. “These flights are important to business and leisure travelers alike and provide an essential link to our nation’s capital.”

A release from the airport said American Airlines was required to divest 52 slot pairs, or rights allocated by an airport or government to schedule landings and departures during a specific time period, as part of its merger. The move could have affected the airline’s service to Manchester, the release said. But the airline released a list of 17 affected airports and Manchester was not on it, the airport said.

“The Manchester Airport is a critical economic engine for New Hampshire and our entire region, and the airport’s daily flights to our nation’s capital are essential for our residents and businesses,” Hassan said in a statement. “I thank federal regulators for heeding our calls and recognizing the importance of these flights to New Hampshire’s future economic growth, and I look forward to the Manchester Airport’s continued success.”

“This is good news for Manchester-Boston Airport, which connects New Hampshire to the rest of the nation,” U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said in a statement. “The route between Manchester and Washington is popular for recreational and business travelers, and I’m pleased to see this service will continue.”

“This announcement is great news for New Hampshire,” U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said in a statement. “The Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is one of the region’s economic engines that boosts commerce and tourism and the continued service is a win for New Hampshire jobs.”

“The Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is a gateway to Northern New England,” U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., said in a statement. “Flights to (the Manchester airport) are vital to New Hampshire’s economy, to business growth, and to tourism in our state.”

“I am pleased that the new American Airlines will maintain service at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport,” U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., said in a statement. “These flights play an important role in the economic health of the airport and our state, bringing tourists and businesspeople to New Hampshire and connecting Granite Staters with cities around the country and the globe.”

tbuckland@unionleader.com