Gainesville hopes to attract flight to New York City


Product cans are on display during the filming of a commercial in downtown Los Angeles for a new PepsiCo product called Kickstart, a carbonated drink that is part juice with Mountain Dew flavor. (The Associated Press)

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 1:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 1:40 p.m.

The Gainesville Regional Airport is asking travelers to fill out an online survey about their flight preferences as the airport builds a case for attracting a nonstop route to New York City.

A link to the survey is available at www.FlyGainesville.com.

An average of 70.8 passengers per day fly from Gainesville Regional Airport to New York/Newark through connecting flights, an increase of 13 percent over 2011, the airport said in a news release. LaGuardia Airport is the second most popular final destination from Gainesville, with Miami International being the most popular.

"We are approaching the point of having enough daily New York area passengers to attract new service. But it will still be a challenge to convince airline route planners to give Gainesville a shot, given the climate of the air travel industry," said airport CEO Allan Penksa.

"Our community's support of a direct route to New York City is vital to convincing an airline to add service."

— Special to the Guardian

Credit errors

One in five consumers had an error in a credit report issued by a major agency, according to a government study released Monday.

The Federal Trade Commission study also said that 5 percent of the consumers identified errors in their reports that could lead to them paying more for mortgages, auto loans or other financial products.

The study looked at reports of 1,001 consumers issued by the three major agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The FTC hired researchers to help consumers identify potential errors.

The study closely matches the results of a yearlong investigation by The Columbus Dispatch. The Ohio newspaper's report last year said that thousands of consumers were denied loans because of errors on their credit reports.

The FTC says the findings underline the importance of consumers checking their credit reports.

Consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report each year from each of the three reporting agencies.

The FTC study also found that 20 percent of consumers had an error that was corrected by a reporting agency after the consumer disputed it. About 10 percent of consumers had their credit score changed after a reporting agency corrected errors in their reports.

The Consumer Data Industry Association, which represents the credit reporting agencies and other data companies, said the FTC study showed that the proportion of credit reports with errors that could increase the rates consumers would pay was small.

The study confirmed "that credit reports are highly accurate, and play a critical role in facilitating access to fair and affordable consumer credit," the association said in a statement.

— The Associated Press

Breakfast soda

If you don't like coffee or tea, Mountain Dew has a new breakfast drink that might perk you up.

PepsiCo Inc. is rolling out a new drink called Kickstart this month that has Mountain Dew flavor but is made with 5 percent juice and Vitamins B and C, along with an extra jolt of caffeine.

The company, based in Purchase, N.Y., is hoping to boost sales by reaching Mountain Dew fans at a new time of day: morning.

PepsiCo said it doesn't consider Kickstart to be an energy drink, noting that it still has far less caffeine than drinks like Monster and Red Bull and none of the mysterious ingredients that have raised concerns among lawmakers and consumer advocates.

But Kickstart, which comes in flavors such as "energizing orange citrus" and "energizing fruit punch," could nevertheless give the company a side-door into the fast-growing energy drink market without getting tangled in any of its controversies. The drink comes in the same 16-ounce cans as popular energy drinks made by Monster Beverage Corp., which also offers options with juice content. And the TV ad features young men skateboarding, reminiscent of the marketing themes used by energy drink makers.

Simon Lowden, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo's Americas beverages, says the idea for Kickstart came about after the company learned through consumer research that Mountain Dew fans were looking for an alternative to traditional morning drinks such as coffee, tea and juice.

"They didn't really see anything that fit their needs," he said.

Lowden said Kickstart was developed independently from a Taco Bell breakfast drink introduced last year that combines Mountain Dew and orange juice. PepsiCo says Kickstart, which is carbonated, is also not a soda because its 5 percent juice content qualifies it to be considered a "juice drink" under guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration. A spokeswoman for the FDA said the agency doesn't have definitions for what qualifies as a soda or an energy drink.

Although Kickstart may look like an energy drink, it has far less caffeine, at 92 milligrams for a 16-ounce can. A comparable amount of regular Mountain Dew would have 72 milligrams of caffeine while a can of PepsiCo's Amp energy drink has 142 milligrams, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

By comparison, a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee has 330 milligrams of caffeine.

— The Associated Press

Lay's new flavors

The next Lay's potato chip will taste like chicken and waffles. Or cheesy garlic bread. Or Sriracha, a hot sauce often used in Thai dishes.

Lay's is letting potato chip lovers decide which one of the three will be its newest flavor. All of them will be sold at retailers nationwide starting this week. After trying them, fans have until May to vote for their favorites. The flavor with the most votes will stay on store shelves. But if the other two flavors sell well, they may remain in stores, too, said Ann Mukherjee, chief marketing officer at Frito-Lay.

It's the latest promotional stunt that tries to engage customers through social media and direct interaction, much as Hasbro's Monopoly did with its recent contest that ended with the addition of a cat game token and the demise of the iron.

Lay's Chicken & Waffles, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Sriracha were suggested by three people through the company's "Do Us a Flavor" campaign. A panel of chefs and flavor experts looked through about 3.8 million submissions and selected about 20 flavors to prototype. From there, the judges picked the three finalists. Mukherjee said that each dish was cooked in the test kitchen and compared with the flavored chip.

Fans will have three ways to vote for their favorites. They can do it though Lay's Facebook page, by texting "VOTE" to 24477 or through Twitter using the hashtags (hash)SaveChickenWaffles, (hash)SaveGarlicBread or (hash)SaveSriracha.

The person who submitted the winning flavor will win $1 million, or one percent of the chip's 2013 sales, whichever is more. The runners-up will win $50,000.

— The Associated Press

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