JetBlue in tune with the Caribbean beat

JetBlue chief executive Dave Barger likes the Caribbean at the moment. He told us that here at the Network Latin America event, organised by Airline Business and hosted by the Aruba Airport Authority on this lovely island.

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Barger was a keynote speaker on Monday where he explained the carrier’s Caribbean crusade, which actually will include Colombia, probably Mexico and probably a few other neat places as well.

Here’s what I wrote for our sister online news service Air Transport Intelligence following Dave’s comments:

HEADLINE: JetBlue evaluates 24 more Latin and Caribbean destinations

 

JetBlue Airways is examining the potential of 24 potential destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean as it continues its recent build-up of service in the region, says Dave Barger, the carrier’s chief executive.

 

Speaking at the Network Latin America event being held on the Caribbean island of Aruba yesterday, Barger said the airline’s “Caribbean campaign” of growth on these “North-South” routes from the US had been made possible by moving onto routes cut by network US carriers and by adding routes from gateways like Boston and Orlando.

 

“We find that when we go into these new markets we are truly stimulating the market,” he told the audience of 200 airline planners and airport marketing executives. For examples its new routes from Tampa and Orlando to Cancun had been a good success.

 

“Let’s not just hear about traditional city pairs, let’s hear about those non-traditional markets too,” he told airports interesting in attracting the carrier to serve their destinations.

 

“Hunkering down amidst a shaky US economy and volatile oil doesn’t mean avoiding opportunities,” he said. “Cutting overall costs, boosting ancillary revenue and restructuring the route map can allow carriers to take advantage of opportunities in the Caribbean and Latin America.”

 

This year JetBlue has been reallocated capacity from unprofitable transcontinental markets to shorter-haul Caribbean ones where the returns are better, he said. In the third quarter of 2008 15% of its capacity was in the Caribbean, up from 12% in the same period in 2007.

 

Barger said JetBlue will announce a new route from Orlando to the Caribbean this week. Other new routes already announced are a service between Orlando and Bogota, Colombia that begins on 29 January and a service between Boston and the island of St Maarten on 14 February.

 

On 3 December it launched its first intra-Caribbean route between San Juan in Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

 

“JetBlue is also expanding into seven gates [from four] at Fort Lauderdale. These kind of mini hubs are just excellent opportunities to connect service,” he said.

 

Barger said the carrier is also evaluating routes to Mexico. “I’m a patient guy but I’m getting impatient [about launching its first service into the the country],” he joked.

I also wrote this:

 

HEADLINE: Barger sees profitable industry in 2009

 

As the carrier prepares its budget for next year, JetBlue Airways chief executive Dave Barger said he expects it to be profitable despite an uncertain market.

 

“My sense is that the industry is going to be quite profitable in 2009 and beyond,” he told delegates at the Network Latin America event being held on the Caribbean island of Aruba yesterday.

 

“The demand environment is softer – there’s no doubt about it,” he said. However the capacity discipline the industry has shown, with significant cuts over the past year, was an important favourable factor. JetBlue itself reduced capacity in October by 11% compared with the same month in 2007.

 

There has been further good news with oil prices falling, but Barger stresses that this also has a downside. “It is also a lifeline to some weak airlines out there,” he said.

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One Response to JetBlue in tune with the Caribbean beat

  1. Alcides 11 January, 2009 at 1:23 pm #

    Many Airlines have been cutting flight or terminating services to some Carribean Countries. This has given Jetblue Open Doors to serve Destinations forgotten by other airlines leaving desperate passengers.

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