Discount airline JetBlue announced the start of two new routes out of the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport later this year, when it will officially dethrone American Airlines as the island’s largest carrier with 35 daily flights.
In an event participated by Gov. Luis Fortuño and other high-ranking government officials, JetBlue President Dave Barger offered details about the new nonstop service to St. Thomas and St. Croix, the airline’s 68th and 69th destinations, out of LMM.
The two daily flights to St. Thomas and one daily flight to St. Croix are set to begin Dec. 15. Over the past year, JetBlue has grown 38 percent in Puerto Rico, company officials said.
“It is only thanks to the tremendous support we’ve received from the Puerto Rican community that we have been able to grow at this pace, by adding more options and more destinations for visitors and residents of the Puerto Rico alike,” Barger said. “We are now the Commonwealth’s largest carrier but we know we’re only as good as our last flight, so we will continue to work hard to win our customers’ business every day on every flight, one customer at a time.”
In addition to the new intra-Caribbean flights, JetBlue plans to launch service between Boston and St. Thomas and increase service on the popular route between San Juan and Santo Domingo from three to five daily flights later this year.
“These new flights will bring over 100,000 passengers a year into Puerto Rico. We’re delighted to see JetBlue expanding their operations in Puerto Rico, which is entirely in sync with my administration’s commitment to expanding the island’s air access to the rest of the United States and the Caribbean,” said Fortuño, noting that JetBlue’s expanded capacity will pump $50 million into the island’s economy.
“We’re committed to continuing to bring in more flights in the future, and we’re looking forward to seeing JetBlue and other partners in this effort continue to grow and succeed along with us,” added Fortuño. “These new flights represent a strong boost to our tourism industry, and their success will certainly lead JetBlue to continue to gain an increasingly important role among the carriers that serve the island.”
Since 2009, the government has been working with JetBlue to capitalize on the carrier’s growing popularity in the region, which led to the decision of establishing its Caribbean hub at LMM. For neighboring islands, the expanded service will represent better opportunities for both business and leisure travel.
“The added capacity created by this new JetBlue service to both St. Croix and St. Thomas will allow us to maximize the inbound market from Puerto Rico, market to potential visitors connecting through San Juan,” said U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty. “The flights will also provide additional airlift for Virgin Islanders traveling to Puerto Rico.”
Passenger traffic arriving to LMM last year increased by 4 percent, government officials said Thursday.