Air transportation between Puerto Rico and Florida got a bit more crowded Thursday with the inaugural flight offered by JetBlue between the island and Jacksonville. The new route will transport 36,000 visitors a year and is expected to inject $20 million into the local economy.
The first non-stop flight arrived at Luis Muñoz Marín Airport Thursday, adding to JetBlue’s regular service schedule that by summer should include 11 destinations to and from the island, Economic Development and Commerce José Pérez-Riera said during a news conference at the JetBlue terminal.
“The efforts between both governments and the private sector were key to achieving the new route. Thanks to this, we have identified strategies that will increase the viability of the route between Puerto Rico and Florida, such as boosting health tourism, sports tourism such as golf, and commercial exchange between both cities,” Pérez-Riera said.
The new business opportunities would add to the commercial relationship already in place between Puerto Rico and the northern Florida city, he said. Currently, mor than 70 percent of the shipping cargo between the two points is handled out of Jacksonville, while Puerto Rico is the city’s main commercial partner.
“There’s Nno doubt that the access this new route to Jacksonville provides will positively impact business development,” the government official said.
Puerto Rico’s relationship with the low-fare carrier began in May 2002, when JetBlue established a San Juan-New York route with three daily flights. In the years since, the carrier has expanded its service to Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Tampa, as well as Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. San Juan is among JetBlue’s top destinations, company officials said.
“We’re proud to be able to bring these sister cities closer together with our daily flight between San Juan and Jacksonville, thanks to the great support of the community behind this initiative,” said Scott Laurence, vice president of Network Planning for JetBlue was also on hand for the arrival of the inaugural flight.
“We believe creating connections is key, be it for work or pleasure,” he noted.
JetBlue’s flight departs from Jacksonville at 10:23 a.m. arriving at 1:20 p.m., while the flight from San Juan leaves at 2:20 p.m. daily.