By Philip Newman
The Forest Hills-based airline JetBlue has announced plans to expand its service to the Caribbean, with a new destination in Puerto Rico and inauguration of service to the Dominican Republic.
JetBlue said it planned to begin flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Aguadilla at Puerto Rico’s northwest corner on May 27 and add two new flights between JFK and San Juan this summer.
“With the success of our service to San Juan, we’re excited to expand our service in the Caribbean with our second Puerto Rico route and also our proposal to add two new routes to the Dominican Republic,” said JetBlue CEO David Neeleman.
Several elected officials hailed the move by JetBlue.
“This is a great announcement by JetBlue,” said U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) “Not only will JetBlue be providing a new and easy way for so many Puerto Rican and Dominican New Yorkers to visit families and friends, but this new service will open up new worlds of tourism and economic development prospects in New York.”
“One of the most important issues facing the Puerto Rican community in New York is being able to get to Aguadilla and back without paying through the roof,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y.)
Gov. George Pataki said “JetBlue Airways’ decision to provide affordable, high quality service from JFK airport to the Dominican Republic is tremendous news for New Yorkers, particularly for the thousands of Hispanic New Yorkers of Dominican descent who have loved ones back home.”
JetBlue began flights to San Juan nearly two years ago and currently operates four flights daily to San Juan. Two more flights will be added starting this summer.
The airline has filed for authority with the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin twice daily service to Santiago, P.R., starting June 10 and a daily flight to Santo Domingo starting June 17.
JetBlue also reported that its traffic in February increased by 48.8 percent over February 2003 on a capacity increase of 51.7 percent. The airline’s load factor, the percentage of seats bringing in revenue, declined from 79.5 in February 2003 to 77.9 last month.
JetBlue, operating out of JFK, operates a fleet of 56 Airbus A320 jetliners and plans to add 13 more A320s later this year.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.