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At a glance
An additional flight to Atlanta beginning in September will increase capacity from Delta Air Lines at Fort Wayne International Airport by 332 outbound seats a week, an increase of 28.9 percent over September 2013.

Delta adds amenities, 4th flight to Atlanta

Visiting the ATL will get more posh.

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority on Tuesday announced that Delta Air Lines will begin offering a first-class option aboard a 76-seat regional jet bound for Atlanta starting July 1.

While just 12 seats will be first class, officials at the travel hub believe it’s a step toward addressing the requests of business travelers and others who want more amenities.

And in September, Fort Wayne International Airport passengers will gain a fourth flight to Atlanta aboard a traditional 50-seater jet.

Airport spokeswoman Jessica Miller said many travelers have been clamoring for first-class seating and more flights to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – the busiest hub in the world, with 94 million passengers in 2013.

“When your flight is over two hours long, it can get uncomfortable,” she said, adding that first-class seating offers more legroom. “It can get kind of tight on regional jets.”

In May, daily flights from Fort Wayne to Philadelphia and Charlotte, North Carolina, were announced in a regional economic effort to connect directly with the East Coast. The US Airways Express flights will begin Oct. 2, twice daily to Philadelphia and once daily to Charlotte.

The flights were the result of a $2.5 million joint effort by the Fort Wayne City Council, the airport authority, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. They hope to induce airlines to offer daily flights to an East Coast travel hub.

City and county officials say the flights are needed to bolster economic development.

Last fall, Fort Wayne International officials were told by a consultant that pilot shortages and competition from nearby airports in larger cities are among the obstacles facing regional airports as they continue to negotiate with carriers for increased service. Allen County leaders believe the additional Atlanta flights help to address this issue.

“(Fort Wayne International Airport’s) flights to Atlanta have operated at or near capacity for some time now, and we’re confident this route can support additional seats,” said Scott Hinderman, the airport authority’s executive director.

“We hope travelers will enjoy the added flexibility Delta has given us in Fort Wayne, specifically those loyal fliers who will likely take advantage of first-class service.”