Discount air service Direct Air, which will give Greater Boston travelers a taste of Virgin America service, is offering $140 roundtrip fares to two Florida and one South Carolina cities to mark the launch of its service from Worcester Nov. 22.
The sale will begins Friday Nov. 14 on the company’s website and will run through Nov. 21. Travel must be completed by Oct. 31, 2009, and the fare certificates are transferable. Customers will be limited to 20 certificates.
Direct limits baggage to two pieces per passenger and there is a prepaid fee of $20 per bag per direction, $25 if paid at the airport.
Ed Warneck, president of Direct, said yesterday the air service will reserve 10 percent of seats on flights for the special fares, ‘‘and will obviously let more in if we have available seats on planes.’’
Direct, based in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will fly on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays into and out of Worcester Regional Airport, which hasn’t had regular commercial service since Allegiant Air, a discount airline and charter company based in Las Vegas, pulled out in 2006. The schedule calls for one arrival and one departure daily to its Florida destinations: Punta Gorda, near Fort Myers, and Sanford, outside of Orlando. Service to Myrtle Beach will take place on Thursdays and Sundays. Flight are nonstops.
Direct is an air service, which means it doesn’t own planes but leases them. For its Worcester service, it plans to use Virgin planes and flight crews for its Florida flights at least through spring of 2010 and USA Jet Airlines for trips to Myrtle Beach.
This will give local travelers who have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Virgin an opportunity to sneak a peek at the airline, which has garnered attention for its luxury approach to lower-fare travel, with its leather seats, satellite TV, on-demand movies, streaming radio, and selection of MP3 music files.
Virgin, which serves New York , Washington, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, and Las Vegas, plans to eventually enter the Boston market, but probably won’t in the next year, according to Abby Lunardini, a Virgin spokeswoman. Amid the current economic slowdown, the carrier decided to lease planes to Direct ‘‘to maintain flexibility with our current fleet size in the short term,’’ Lunardini said.
Warneck, who formerly ran Championship Golf Tours, said he is one of five partners who own and run Direct. Three of the partners have experience running airline operations, including now defunct Hooters Air, and one, Robert Keilman, is a retired comptroller of the Bank of New York.
Direct largely flies from north to south, carrying leisure travelers, and it prefers to go into secondary markets to save money on airport fees. Besides the Florida cities and Myrtle Beach, the airline serves Newark, Niagara Falls and Plattsburgh in New York, Pittsburgh and Allentown, Pa., Kalamazoo, Mich., and Toledo, Ohio.
As an inducement to bring Direct Air to Worcester Regional, MassPort waived most fees for the company for two years. The authority and the City of Worcester also will spend up to $300,000 in federal grant money to help promote the new service, first announced in September.