PHOTO: Jet Blue will launch service to Port au Prince from Orlando beginning in December. (photo by Brian Major)
New York-based JetBlue Airways will become the latest major airline to establish service between Haiti’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport and Orlando International Airport with the December launch of direct service between the cities.
The route will commence pending government approval, said company officials. Seats are expected to be available for sale within the next few weeks. Orlando will become the fourth city from which JetBlue offers flights to Port-au-Prince.
JetBlue currently offers flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Haiti’s capital. The airline operates nearly one-third of its capacity in the Caribbean and Latin America.
“Service between Orlando and Port-au-Prince will provide a valuable link between Haiti’s capital city and many communities in central Florida that currently lack nonstop flights from their closest major airport,” said John Checketts, JetBlue’s vice president—network planning.
JetBlue joins Haitian-based carrier Sunrise Airways this month in announcing new Orlando-Port-au-Prince service. Sunrise will launch the new flights on October 17, subject to government approval. Seats are projected to be available for bookings in mid-June.
READ MORE: Haiti Poised for Huge Tourism Bounce Back
Haitian tourism stakeholders are seeking to jumpstart the surging tourist arrivals the country posted between 2013 and 2015. Arrivals declined sharply in 2016 as Hurricane Matthew killed an estimated 1,600 residents in October, stretching the country’s scant resources.
Prior to 2016, Haiti’s arrivals rose sharply, supported by government initiatives to stimulate the country’s moribund tourism sector. Haiti welcomed 1,189,269 visitor arrivals in 2015, a 5.2 percent increase over 2014.
JetBlue supported rebuilding efforts following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake that preceded the tourism surge. The airline partnered with agencies including the American Red Cross to aid recovery efforts. “I am pleased to congratulate JetBlue on this new air route, which it is inaugurating, linking the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, with the city of Orlando,” said Jessy Menos Haiti’s minister of tourism.
“This new destination will have the merit of better serving Haitians and Americans wanting to visit both states. Thus, new opportunities are opening to the tourism sector and operators to tourists through the diversification of North American destinations.”