More good news with the announcement that jetBlue will commence a daily flight from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (FLL) airport to Barbados from April next year, opening up a second main gateway from the South Eastern United States. Depending on the final flight times, it also may present […] a great opportunity to connect with existing nonstop servicesoperated by the same carrier from Austin, Nashville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as the Atlantic seaboard. FLL airport currently handles more than 24 million passengers each year serving over 100 US and International cities with nonstop flights.
According to August 2015 figures, jetBlue is the busiest carrier handling 23.4 per cent of passenger traffic, Spirit is second with 19.7 per cent and Southwest third with 15.8 per cent. jetBlue’s growth has been nothing short of remarkable, from their modest first foray into the region with a New York to San Juan (Puerto Rico) service in 2002, they now operate 150 flights a day to the Caribbean and Latin America from the United States, representing a staggering one-third of their current capacity. With ten new aircraft arriving in 2016 and another ten in 2017, that growth appears to be ongoing.
When announcing the new route, Robin Hayes, the airline’s President stated what should be music to the industry’s ears saying this ‘is a perfect example of a true partnership with the tourism ministry, the airport and local hoteliers’. And reminding us all that this is a highly market driven business, he added ‘where our legacy competitors had become a bit too complacent and we’ve built new markets that have never been flown before’.
Ironically just days later, the President of American Airlines, Scott Kirby, while perhaps not responding directly to the new jetBlue route, stated that they plan to compete with the likes of Spirit Airlines and Frontier on ‘no frills low fares from next year’. Adding the following ‘we will do more to disaggregate and really do more to have a product that has less frills. That will allow us to offer a product that is more competitive on price with ultra low-cost carriers’. The reasoning behind this move is to grab more business from the once-a-year traveller. American said 87 per cent of customers fly with the airline just once a year on average and cost is overwhelmingly the most important factor.
The 30 miles that separate Hollywood (FLL) and Miami International airport’s housing the hubs of two major US airlines, look like the battle lines are being drawn and just maybe the consumer will benefit from lower fares.
I am also hoping that our tourism planners together with jetBlue will look outside of the continental North America and explore other possibilities like code-sharing with Norwegian Air to link their direct nonstop flights from Scandinavia to FLL and onto Barbados. Even if the connection times may not end up being a perfect match, incentives like a low cost airport overnight in one or both directions could easily be arranged. In fact it may even add another desirable element to the overall holiday experience.
Staying on the subject of jetBlue, the first seasonal weekly, Saturday nonstop service is arriving from Boston this week. During the period 19th December until 4th January it will operate daily opening up yet another gateway and giving the over 4.6 million population of Greater Boston, the tenth-largest metropolitan area in the country, a new direct route to the sun.
As a commuting region that number jumps to an incredible 7.6 million residents.