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More Bradley-to-San Juan flights could benefit new Foxwoods casino

An announcement Tuesday that Frontier Airlines will introduce nonstop service between Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks and San Juan, Puerto Rico, early next year was welcome news for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which manages the new Foxwoods El San Juan Casino.

Frontier, which will offer the flight for an introductory fare of $79, will compete with JetBlue, another low-cost airline that already flies between Bradley and San Juan.

Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket tribal chairman, said he had no inkling the Frontier service was in the works.

“But I think it’s great for the state in general,” Butler wrote in an email. “Pre-COVID there were multiple non-stop flights to Puerto Rico simply based on it being a popular tourist destination for New Englanders and the large Puerto Rican population throughout the region, so I would just chalk this up to re-opening. Direct flights from New Haven would be nice too.”

The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that along with the new Bradley-to-San Juan service, Frontier also was introducing nonstop flights from Bradley next year to another sunny destination, Cancun, Mexico.

“We are delighted to offer our passengers more options to travel conveniently and affordably to Cancun and San Juan,” Kevin Dillon, the authority’s executive director, said in a statement. “Attracting new nonstop flights is a top priority ... Since their (Frontier’s) debut at Bradley International Airport only three years ago, we’ve welcomed their impressive expansion. The addition of these new flights builds on that growth and gives an exciting boost to our route network.”

For the tribe, which opened Foxwoods Resort Casino in 1992, the timing could hardly be better.

Located inside the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, the Foxwoods El San Juan Casino debuted in a soft opening Nov. 17, as Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi and other local dignitaries joined Foxwoods and tribal officials at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. A grand opening for the casino is planned for January.

The Frontier service from Bradley to San Juan Airport will begin Feb. 18 and operate year round, three times a week.

The airport authority operates Bradley and five other general aviation airports in the state, including Groton-New London Airport. It seeks to attract new airlines and routes in support of the state’s overall economic development.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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