It’s been a bad couple of weeks for a lot of places like Meridian, Mississippi, or Fargo, North Dakota, and other towns that have been told that they’ll be losing much of not all of their Delta Air Lines service this month or next. For Orlando, the Central Florida tourist magnet, it started out pretty bad when Delta, the airline that’s leaving Fargo, Meridian, Bellingham, Atlantic City and a couple of other places, said it was cutting a lot out of flights at Orlando as part of a system slash. But if they were shedding tears in their daiquiris, Orlandonians had only a brief crying jag, because the next day, JetBlue said it was formally making the city near the Magic Kingdom of Disney into its next (and seventh) focus city. The New York-based discounter will grow from six gates at the International airport (MCO) to 10, ending a split operation in which its domestic flights use one Orlando terminal and its international flights another. JetBlue added international flights from Orlando in early March with service into Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Cancun, México. It is also hoping to start service to Bogota under a Transportation Department redistribution of US-Colombia routes. It has served cities in Puerto Rico from Orlando for some time, and the city has become an important one in its network.
Orlando will also get a crew base, with 292 rooms for pilots, flight attendants and others on their flights.This is a good thing, because under the Delta trims, Orlando loses a lot because Delta’s network is largely point to point from Orlando, and Delta is trimming non-stop routes. Orlando loses Delta non-stops to Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina, to Greensboro, NC and Little Rock, Ark., and sees substantial cuts in frequencies to Boston, New Orleans, Richmond, Raleigh-Durham, NC, and Knoxville, Tenn. That is a sharp reversal for an airline that 20 years paid huge amounts of money to be named the official airline of Disney World and was for a long time Orlando’s number one carrier. (That honour now belongs to Southwest, but AirTran and JetBlue are both big players.)