JetBlue Airways, Puerto Rico’s largest carrier, was granted Monday a “beyond-perimeter” slot exemption from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which will enable it to launch new nonstop “capital-to-capital” service from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. The carrier expects to start service in the fall.
JetBlue’s new flights will be the only nonstop service between Washington D.C.’s preferred business airport and the capital of Puerto Rico, which is among the 10 largest markets without nonstop air service to Reagan National.
In San Juan, customers may travel onward with JetBlue to a few more capital cities, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
“It’s a great day for JetBlue as we further expand our low fare presence in two of our most rapidly growing cities, Washington, D.C., and San Juan, with new capital-to-capital service,” said Rob Land, senior vice president of government affairs and associate general counsel at JetBlue. “Today’s award by the Department of Transportation further underscores that despite being a small player at Reagan National, JetBlue has quickly been able to stimulate traffic, lower fares, and garner significant support in the capital region for our unique brand of customer service.”
“JetBlue’s new San Juan-to-D.C. direct service will advance Puerto Rico’s position as the premier U.S. hub in the Caribbean, boost traveler choice, and inject new competition into the market,” Gov. Luis Fortuño said. “These new low-fare flights between two capital cities will increase Puerto Rico’s competitiveness as we continue our drive to be the best destination for business and tourism in the region.”
JetBlue is Puerto Rico’s largest airline, offering more seats in and out of the island than any other carrier with service to 13 nonstop destinations throughout the U.S. mainland and the Caribbean.
Since JetBlue first began operating into San Juan in 2002, the number of fliers traveling with JetBlue to/from the Commonwealth’s capital has grown an average of 28 percent each year.
JetBlue launched service from Reagan National in November 2010, after more than a decade of attempting to enter the tightly restricted market.
Most recently, it obtained eight slot pairs at an auction held by the Department of Transportation, which allowed the airline to increase its total slot holdings to 34.
With its expanded access to Reagan National, JetBlue will in June increase its business-friendly schedule of seven daily round-trip flights between Reagan National and Boston to 10 daily flights, triple its daily service to its focus cities in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla., and launch a new nonstop route to Tampa, Fla.