Last updated: 11:30 AM ET, Fri March 11 2016

JetBlue Announces Major Expansion in Fort Lauderdale

Airlines & Airports | Josh Lew | March 11, 2016

JetBlue Announces Major Expansion in Fort Lauderdale

PHOTO: The departures board at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. (Photo by Tim Wood)

JetBlue has announced a major expansion at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The low-cost carrier will operate an average of 140 daily flights out of the South Florida hub during the winter season in coming years. If that number holds, it would be a 75 percent increase of JetBlue’s current flight operation at Lauderdale.

New routes to New Orleans and Nassau

As part of this expansion, JetBlue will continue to grow in the Caribbean market with more flights to Nassau, Bahamas starting on Aug. 1. Once the new flights take off, the airline will have a total of five daily round-trip services to the Bahamian capital.

'Blue has also announced new service to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International. Round trip flights will start on Sept. 29. The idea is that people from South Florida will be able to reach New Orleans and fliers from the Big Easy will be able to connect to JetBlue’s other routes in Fort Lauderdale and travel elsewhere in the U.S. or to destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The expansion announcement comes as JetBlue continues to improve its base in the airport’s Terminal 3. The airline currently operates flights on 46 routes out of Fort Lauderdale, and the press release announcing the latest Bahamas and New Orleans additions hints that there will be more route announcements later this year.

READ MORE: JetBlue Expands Charter Service To Cuba

Competing with quality, not just number of routes and cheap fares

Marty St. George, the airline’s vice president of commercial and planning, thinks that JetBlue can compete with South Florida’s other major players in terms of overall quality as well as route selection: 

“JetBlue is the number-one airline in Fort Lauderdale not only because of our size, but also because we deliver the very best experience to our customers with our award-winning service and style. We served more than five million customers in Fort Lauderdale last year and they have come to expect nothing but the best when they travel with JetBlue. With things like assigned seating, unlimited free name-brand snacks and complimentary TVs and entertainment at every seat, we have truly brought humanity back to air travel in South Florida.”

That could be a reference to the biggest tenant at nearby Miami International. American Airlines has struggled with customer satisfaction recently, even lagging behind the other two legacy carriers.

READ MORE: JetBlue Expands New York-Barbados Mint Service

JetBlue is directly competing with AA in the Caribbean and Latin America and has been able to take some of the giant carrier’s market share in the region. With planned cabin upgrades and offerings like free Wi-Fi, ‘Blue is intently focusing on providing a better flying experience (or at least a more feature-rich flying experience) than American and other competitors.

Cuba also on the horizon

JetBlue has applied for a number of slots in Havana and in other destinations in Cuba. Many of these potential services would leave from Fort Lauderdale. Announcements are most likely coming sometime during the summer and flights would then start in the fall.

Lately it seems like JetBlue is making all the right moves as it tries to become THE carrier in South Florida. It remains to be seen if its increase is daily flights at Fort Lauderdale ultimately helps or hurts the carrier as it tries to capture a larger market share from the likes of American Airlines and Southwest. 


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