Today’s news:

Delta launches new discount airline at LaGuardia

A four-month-old airline called Song has begun service out of LaGuardia Airport in an attempt to strike a high note with travelers looking for discount fares.

Song is the low-fare offspring of Delta Air Lines and will replace Delta Express, which the nation’s third largest airline plans to shut down Aug. 31.

Song, which began operations in April, inaugurated flights from LaGuardia with two nonstops to Tampa last week and plans to begin flights soon to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

The cut-rate airline, like the Forest Hills-based airline JetBlue, has leather seats in its fleet of 36 Boeing 757 jetliners and is scheduled to add all sorts of electronic entertainment, such as digital satellite TV, music and interactive games along with information on points of interest en route.

Airline officials said Song’s 33 inches of seat pitch were more than any other low-fare service.

“All Song flights feature complimentary beverage service. but passengers can buy real food,” Song ads proclaim.

The debut of Song at LaGuardia means the discount carrier now serves all three New York City airports.

Officials of the new airline pointed out that Song serves more New York airports than JetBlue and offers more flight times. But JetBlue, which flies only out of John F. Kennedy International airport, is one of very few airlines to have turned a profit and avoided layoffs following the attack on the World Trade Center.

Song’s fares of $75 to $230 one-way to Florida are close to those of JetBlue.

Airline analysts point out that JetBlue, which began flying in 2000 and operates a fleet of Airbus A320 jetliners with Brazilian-made Embraer jets on order, controls costs more efficiently than most of the larger airlines.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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