LONDON – JetBlue has announced a huge expansion in Florida as part of ambitious plans to firm up its position, supporting long-awaited routes and further taking on the ‘Big Four’ airlines in the market.
In the press statement on 15 February 2023, JetBlue announced it would grow its network from Fort Laurderdale-Hollywood airport to 250 daily flights by 2027, assisted by the company’s planned merger with Spirit.
The new growth will be spearheaded by the introduction of a Fort Lauderdale to Tallahassee route beginning in January 2024, connecting the state capital to another city in the state.
The planned daily service will be a welcome introduction for business travellers and also those in Universities in Tallahassee.
Tallahassee Mayor, John Dailey, said: “Tallahassee is thriving, and this exciting news is another example of the many great things coming to fruition around our growing community and at the Tallahassee International Airport.”
“The addition of JetBlue is the result of long-term, focused planning efforts and investments at TLH to expand air service in a way that brings value to our community.”
Alternative to Miami
JetBlue are positioning Fort Lauderdale (FLL) as an alternative to Miami with JetBlue and Spirit offering 66 of Miami’s top 100 markets. The two airlines also announced an offering of approximately 30 additional routes from Fort Lauderdale today and increased frequencies on 30 other routes.
This would increase JetBlue’s network coverage from Fort Lauderdale to around 90% of Miami’s top 100 routes.
Additionally, there are plans to launch a transatlantic route from the Florida base to increase low-cost long-haul choices to the State. JetBlue already performs some transatlantic routes from its New York JFK home base to Europe.
Other potential international routes have also been made viable, primarily in the Caribbean and South America.
JetBlue’s Fort Lauderdale expansion, it was announced, is tied to the development plans of the airport which outlines improvements in airport facilities and potential for further growth.
Robin Hayes, Chief Executive Officer of JetBlue, said “We fully support Broward County’s plan for future airport development. The region is growing quickly and will need more flights to meet demand. And our commitment goes well beyond a bigger flight schedule.”
JetBlue are also planning to establish a maintenance hangar at Fort Lauderdale and also has other services based in the region – Spirit’s Dania Beach support centre and JetBlue Travel Products business.
The airport development plans, with involvement from JetBlue, include constructing the new Terminal 5 and associated infrastructure for passengers and aircraft. The development is expected to be completed in mid-2026.
Battling the ‘Big-Four’
The expansion announcement follows recent plans for JetBlue and Spirit Airlines to merge and create a “national, customer-centric, low-fare alternative to the dominant ‘Big Four’ airlines.”
As reported by AviationSource, the merger has experienced recent challenges. However, the expansion press release can be seen as a marker of intent by the businesses to achieve the merger and their market position.
Hayes said “as a customer-centric alternative to the high-fare legacy airline that dominates South Florida, we have achieved rapid growth in Fort Lauderdale and are ready to turbocharge further expansion once we combine with Spirit.”
The merger of the New York-based JetBlue and Orlando-based Spirit is designed to be able to compete with the ‘Big Four’ airlines that dominate the USA domestic market – namely United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
The move will also create scale efficiencies with a combined network across the country.
“You shouldn’t have to choose between a low fare and a great experience. JetBlue offers both, and that’s why we are uniquely positioned to challenge the Big Four airlines and boost competition in Florida and across the country,” Hayes said.