JetBlue eyeing more Lauderdale routes, CEO says [Sun Sentinel]
(South Florida Sun Sentinel (FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 19--JetBlue Airways is bullish about adding more routes from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as part of its goal to grow operations from 65 daily flights to 100, President and CEO Dave Barger told the Sun Sentinel in an exclusive interview this week.
"Fort Lauderdale is our focus topic right now. It's top of the pyramid for us," Barger said.
Among the new destinations it's considering adding in the near future are Quito, Ecuador; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, he said.
Quito would be a new city for JetBlue, while Montego Bay and Punta Cana already are served from New York and other gateways.
"It's very likely these routes will play out for us," said Barger, who was in town to deliver the keynote address at a Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance event in Davie on Thursday night.
If the Quito route materializes, it also will be a first for the Fort Lauderdale airport as currently no other carrier serves that city, officials said.
"That's big stuff right there," said Steve Belleme, the airport's business development manager.
Other JetBlue growth initiatives include adding a newly-delivered 190-seat Airbus A321 aircraft on its New York-to-Fort Lauderdale route in December, which will mean 40 more seats per departure, Barger said. It also plans to establish a maintenance base with hangar in Fort Lauderdale to house and service aircraft.
"We're having success in this market and we want to move [operations] to 100 trips and see where it goes from there," Barger said.
The New York-based value carrier has been aggressively adding new routes from the Fort Lauderdale airport and is its No.1 carrier with 18.7 percent of passenger traffic this year through August, the latest airport data shows. Spirit Airlines follows with 17.6 percent.
Next month, JetBlue begins service from Fort Lauderdale to Worcester, Mass., and Lima, Peru and in December to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The carrier also has plans for new service to Port of Spain, Trinidad starting next May. JetBlue also added new service to Medellin, Colombia and San Jose, Costa Rica this summer.
Some new initiatives to boost the passenger experience, include the addition of a family pooling option to its TrueBlue loyalty program, which allows members to combine and share their points in one account. In November, JetBlue plans to launch a new superfast Wi-Fi Internet service on its aircraft, which it's calling Fly-Fi.
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