Continental and jetBlue have announced some new routes over the past couple weeks, looking to capitalize on fun, sun and, in one case, subsidy money and demand. Sure, the economy is still hurt and the airline industry is still struggling, but there are little bits of expansion happening anyways as specific markets still appear ripe for the taking.
In Continental’s case the market is Biloxi, Mississippi. The carrier has contracted with Grand Casino Biloxi and the IP Casino Resort to subsidize the costs of operating flights between the casino town and two Florida cities – Tampa and Jacksonville. The fares are not super-cheap; they still cost ~$120 each way at the bottom end of the range – but they are at least providing service. AirTran used to operate similar flights for the casinos but chose to not renew the contract in January so there is clearly some questionable history on the routes. Continental will operate the flights using an Embrear ERJ-145 through its regional carrier Continental Express.
JetBlue announced today their intent to expand their service into Jamaica, adding daily non-stop flights to Kingston from their hub at New York’s JFK, subject to government approval. This is on top of the Montego Bay flights that began service today. Air Jamaica has been struggling of late and this certainly cannot be good for them. Relatively speaking jetBlue operates a reliable and friendly service and has nicer planes. There is only so much bad that “champagne flights” can make up for, and Air Jamaica has gone way past that historically so it is nice to see that folks needing to get between New York and Kingston will have another option available.
Service to Kingston will mark jetBlue’s 14th international destination, a significant growth in the Caribbean region over the past couple years. Those markets appear to have much higher yields than the transcon markets that jetBlue has been trimming down lately. Yes, they are keeping the transcons, but they are not growing them and aren’t working too hard to build that aspect of their business. After all, it isn’t a particularly profitable market.
JetBlue has also announced a return of their seasonal service to Nantucket for the summer and a fare sale on the Montego Bay flights. If Jamaica in the middle of hurricane season is your thing the fares are actually pretty good – $129+tax each way.
Get out there and fly!
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