US carrier JetBlue Airways will launch flights to Curaçao International Airport from its base at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport before the end of this year as it further expands its network in the Caribbean. The twice weekly link will commence from December 2, 2014 and will expand the carrier’s network to 31 destinations across the Caribbean market.
This will be the only direct offering between New York JFK and Curaçao, part of the ABC islands that also includes Aruba and Bonaire, and will represent the first non-stop link to the Caribbean island from the greater New York area since United Airlines closed the former Continental Airlines link from Newark Liberty International Airport in April last year.
"We have been working closely with the team at JetBlue to bring this flight to the island and are thrilled it has come to fruition," said Stanley Palm, Curaçao's Minister of Economic Development. "Curaçao continues to thrive as one of the Caribbean's most diverse and culturally-rich islands and we look forward to now being able to share it with more visitors.”
Curaçao is considered by many as a hidden gem amongst all Caribbean island destinations, renowned for its diving, beaches and unique architecture. The historic island is already a popular destination for European travellers due to its Dutch heritage and its capital, Willemsted, is a UNESCO World Heritage City.
Despite the strong tourist flows from Europe which are supported by the flights of ArkeFly and KLM to Amsterdam and airberlin to Dusseldorf, connectivity to the US is limited. Alongside this new JetBlue flight American Airlines offers the only other link to the US with a connection to Miami. In comparison, Canada is well connected to the destination with seasonal flights by Sunwing Airlines and WestJet to Toronto and new links this winter from Air Canada rouge to Toronto (from November 7, 2014) and Air Canada to Montreal (from January 1, 2015).
This new route is part of JetBlue's continued expansion into the Caribbean and Latin America where one third of its network is operated. "We are really excited to be able to offer customers the only nonstop route from New York to Curaçao and more nonstop flights to the Caribbean than any other airline," said Robin Hayes, president, JetBlue Airways.
"This well preserved island is our 31st Caribbean destination, and is a favourite among diving enthusiasts for its healthy coral reefs, and is considered one of the nicest Caribbean escapes for discerning travelers thanks to its pristine beaches and clear water. These natural attractions make the island a natural choice for JetBlue," he added.
In our analysis, below, we look in greater detail at the main O&D markets into Curaçao in the past years and given the previous comments on connectivity with the US you would be surprised to learn the US actually overtook the Netherlands and Venezuela as the largest source/destination market in 2013 with around 265,000 bi-directional passengers. This is an 18.3 per cent demand share, up from just 9.1 per cent in 2008.
The majority of passengers flying between the US and Curaçao are flying in and out of Miami (56.5 per cent share), the only current non-stop link in this market, but around 18,000 passengers a year currently begin or end their journeys in the New York area, around 5,000 of these to or from New York JFK.