I’ve written a number of times before about proximity as a double edged sword for cities like Providence and Milwaukee. They are decent sized metros in their own right, but very close to major global cities. This is typically spun as a gain by those smaller regions, but generally speaking they’ve not been stellar performers in terms of rapid growth.
One way Providence is reaping gains from its nearness to Boston is a pickup in flights at its airport – including several interesting international destinations.
Providence TF Green Airport has long been an alternate for people flying to the Boston region. In fact, in my first trip the area many years ago I was visiting a friend from the Boston suburbs, and he specifically asked me to fly to TF Green because it was easier to get in and out of than Logan.
Now a group of low-cost carriers has moved in. This includes Norwegian Air, which offers ultra-deep discount tickets to select trans-Atlantic destinations. There are now non-stop flights from Providence to cities including Edinburgh, Belfast, and Dublin. (I believe Norwegian is doing a similar thing at Stewart Airport in New York). A number of other low-cost carriers have also moved in. Traffic is up over 20% at the airport.
These routes may not last, but it’s an interesting example of a city that is leveraging a geographic asset to get interesting international air service that few if any similar sized metros would be able to pick up.