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JetBlue announces crew base in San Juan, 1st outside continental U.S.

The airline is set to bring more than 400 jobs to the region with its first pilot and flight attendant base in Puerto Rico.

JetBlue announced plans to open a pilot and flight attendant crew base at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) in San Juan, which is expected to open by the end of 2024, bringing more than 400 jobs to Puerto Rico by 2025.

Once operational, it will be the first for the carrier outside the continental United States.

The announcement coincides with JetBlue’s 22nd anniversary of service to the island and follows the airline’s recently announced plans to expand service from San Juan to more U.S., Caribbean and Latin America destinations.

Stationing pilots and inflight crewmembers in San Juan will not only bolster job creation on the island but also enhance JetBlue’s service and operational capabilities throughout the Caribbean and beyond, officials said.

“We’re so excited to base hundreds more crew members right here in San Juan, where we are proud to be the largest airline with plans to grow even more,” said Warren Christie, JetBlue’s chief operating officer. “The new crew base will support our operation as we grow and benefit the local economy in a place we’re proud to call home.”

Christie said JetBlue’s traffic out of San Juan will “grow to near 50 flights this coming Christmas. So, we’ll continue to be the largest carrier in Puerto Rico and then we’ll see what comes beyond that,” he said when asked about the investment the carrier is making in Puerto Rico.

During the first phase of recruitment, JetBlue will invest some $50 million in direct payroll to local JetBlue employees, said Carlos Mercado-Santiago, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co.

“This great announcement from JetBlue is a testament to the potential of our island and the growth we have had in the tourism sector over the past three years,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi. “This new crew operation base at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, in addition to creating hundreds of jobs, confirms the confidence of the airline in the Puerto Rico market.”

From left: Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Executive Director Carlos Mercado-Santiago, Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi and JetBlue COO Warren Christie during the announcement event.

This operational expansion will station up to 120 pilots and up to 325 inflight crew members in San Juan, with the base opening in phases. Assigned pilots and inflight crewmembers will begin and end trips in San Juan, allowing JetBlue to further diversify its crew’s geography to better recover during irregular operations, such as severe weather, the airline stated.

Currently, JetBlue crew bases include Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Los Angeles. In 2020, JetBlue added a maintenance base in San Juan for its technicians to provide aircraft maintenance and related services.

“The new San Juan crew base is truly a milestone in the island’s air access history and evidence of the strength of the long-standing partnership between Puerto Rico and JetBlue,” said Mercado-Santiago.

“As a key domestic and international flight gateway in the Caribbean, the facilities at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport will provide additional network expansion opportunities for the airline, as well as create new local jobs and increase the tourism industry’s contribution to Puerto Rico’s economic growth,” he added.

The announcement of JetBlue’s newest crew base comes just weeks after the airline announced it would be further expanding its network from San Juan with the addition of six new destinations across the U.S. East Coast, the Caribbean and Latin America, enhancing connectivity and offering more choices to customers.

In July, it will also introduce its popular Mint experience for the first time on a daily flight between San Juan and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The addition of Mint, with its lie-flat seats and an elevated dining experience, will mark a milestone in premium travel for Puerto Rico. By this winter, JetBlue will offer nonstop service between Puerto Rico and 18 cities in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean.

In addition to positions created by the crew base, the planned network expansion will create approximately 80 additional new jobs in San Juan, spanning from frontline operational positions to technical operations roles, and will stimulate economic activity across the region, leading to further job growth.

JetBlue employs more than 370 crew members across Puerto Rico, supporting the airline’s operations in San Juan, Aguadilla and Ponce.

“We’re so proud that our superior product and service has resonated with Puerto Ricans and the many visitors we bring to the island,” said Christie. “As we set out to connect more people and destinations to Puerto Rico, we will do it by ensuring our staffing and our service meet the needs of our customers and standards they expect from JetBlue.”

While it retains its title as Puerto Rico’s largest airline carrier, with this announcement JetBlue follows a similar move by Frontier, as News is my Business reported.

Jorge Hernández, president of Aerostar, operator of Muñoz Marín Airport, said JetBlue’s announcement is “important to convert Puerto Rico into the ‘Bridge to the Americas,’ becoming that point of connectivity that we can be. The fact that we have an airline such as JetBlue relying, partnering and aligning with Puerto Rico to do this, allows Puerto Rico to have all the means possible to increase connectivity and grow the network from Puerto Rico on to the rest of the world and the rest of the Caribbean, the rest of the region,” he said.


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