JetBlue's chief executive flew to Hartford on Monday to confirm the discount airline's plans to start service from Bradley International Airport to Florida, a step, he said, that could lead to additional routes later, possibly San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"Don't you love the sound of commerce?" said JetBlue CEO Dave Barger, who arrived from New York with 51 JetBlue employees aboard a company plane to announce twice-daily, nonstop service to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, starting Nov. 17.
The airline — a major rival of Southwest Airlines, which has long served Bradley — will offer a $69 one-way introductory fare.
The Courant reported last week that JetBlue would start service at Bradley, citing a source familiar with the plan. JetBlue first acknowledged the fact publicly Monday.
The Florida flights will mark JetBlue's entry into service at Bradley, New England's second-largest airport, after Boston's Logan International. JetBlue, based at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, has been expanding rapidly at Logan, and expects soon to be the largest carrier operating there.
Several airlines operating at Bradley already offer service to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. Connecticut transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie said he expects the addition of JetBlue to drive down prices.
Equally, or more, important, he said, was that JetBlue tends to stay and grow in markets it enters, rather than starting and stopping service, he said.
Barger said he believes that his airline could have succeeded in the Hartford market years ago, but has been focused on growing elsewhere within the Northeast, namely New York and Boston.
At first, JetBlue will offer two daily flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, with one morning and one afternoon departure for each, the airline said. It will fly Airbus A320 aircraft powered by V2500 engines produced by a Pratt & Whitney partnership.
Pratt President David Hess and Gov. M. Jodi Rell greeted Barger at the airport.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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