US carrier, JetBlue Airways, is continuing its rapid rise at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport with the introduction of two further routes during the final quarter of this year – a domestic connection to Charleston International Airport and an international link to the Turks and Caicos Islands. These will be the 7th and 8th new non-stop markets to be served by JetBlue from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International since the start of the year and 40th and 41st destinations to be served from the focus city.
The new link to Charleston continues the airline’s growth in the historic southern port city since it launched its first flights into South Carolina in February 2013 from New York. JetBlue will offer a daily flight from Fort Lauderdale from November 19, 2015 but will switch its schedule from January 6, 2016 to offer better early morning departures from and late evening returns to Charleston to better meet the needs of the local market. The route will be operated using a 100-seat Embraer E190.
"Our partnership with JetBlue continues to be mutually beneficial and exceed our expectations," said Fernando Harb, vice president tourism sales, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. "With the addition of direct service from Charleston, SC, we see great growth potential for meetings and conventions as well as business travel segments."
JetBlue also intends to launch the new link between Fort Lauderdale and Turks and Caicos in November 2015, again using Embraer E190 equipment. The flight remains subject to regulatory approval and the US carrier hopes to open reservations within weeks as it awaits the green light to start the international service.
"I am delighted by JetBlue's announcement of the intent to launch direct service from Fort Lauderdale to the Turks and Caicos Islands. This is a very critical and long awaited route for the Turks and Caicos Islands as the gateway to some of the main cities where our diaspora have settled," said The Honourable Dr Rufus W. Ewing, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands. "The new route also signifies the strengthening and growth of our economy and the growing demand by travellers to visit the Turks and Caicos Islands, home of Providenciales, voted as TripAdvisor's World's Best Island."
This year has already seen JetBlue introduce flights from Fort Lauderdale to Albany, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Mexico City, Nashville and Philadelphia. These have quickly followed the launch of services to Jacksonsville, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh late last year.
Its two new routes are into high yield markets, where South Florida is a key outbound leisure markets for travellers and average air fares are currently relatively high. There is already an established market between Florida and Charleston via the flights of American Airlines from Miami, while Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos is a notable Caribbean banking hub with traffic potential to and from South Florida for business, shopping and leisure.
Although JetBlue will be the sole carrier on these two routes, both destinations have previously been linked to Fort Lauderdale over the past ten years. Chautauqua Airlines operated a daily Embraer ERJ-135 connection for Delta Air Lines between Fort Lauderdale and Charleston up until January 2006, while ultra low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines offered flights between Fort Lauderdale and Providenciales from February 2006 to July 2008 with a long summer flight programme.
Our analysis of O&D Demand data shows that around 16,000 bi-directional passengers a year are currently flying between Fort Lauderdale and Charleston via other destinations, while up to 6,000 passengers a year (in 2006) were flying between Fort Lauderdale and Providenciales when Spirit Airlines offered services on the route.
Alongside the new Fort Lauderdale services, JetBlue has also opened reservations for several of its recently announced new routes, including the introduction of its premium Mint service between Boston's Logan International Airport and San Francisco International Airport as well as the new seasonal Mint service between Boston and Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados.
The Mint product on its Airbus A321 fleet will be introduced into the Transcontinental market from Boston on a daily (except Saturday) schedule from March 24, 2016, with the aircraft being deployed on a second daily rotation from April 20, 2016. JetBlue currently flies between Boston and San Francisco three times daily and hopes all three return flights will be upgraded to Mint operation by the end of September 2016.
"We can't wait to bring Mint to Boston, which has welcomed our award-winning customer service and low fares since we first launched service there in 2004," said Dave Clark, vice president network planning, JetBlue.
As part of its schedule extension through to May 3, 2016, JetBlue has confirmed its new weekly Mint service between Boston and Barbados will operate every Saturday from March 26, 2016 through April 30, 2016, while it has also opened reservations for its new flight to Florida's Daytona Beach International Airport from New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport.
The new route represents a significant fillip for the small airport in Volusia County enhancing its domestic connectivity and will bring the return of regular links to the New York area after a seven-year absence. It was originally planned to commence from February 2016, but JetBlue will launch a daily offering from January 7, 2016 using an Airbus A320.