JetBlue looks to double flights out of Fort Lauderdale

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New York-based JetBlue Airways aims to double the number of departures out of Fort Lauderdale in the next four years, as it targets the Florida airport in its next phase of expansion.

Fort Lauderdale is already one of the airline's focus cities, but the airline's chief commercial officer Robin Hayes believes there is more room for growth in northbound domestic service and international service southwards towards Latin America and the Caribbean.

"We see Fort Lauderdale as the next big opportunity," says Hayes today at the airline's investors day in New York, adding that the airline hopes to replicate its success at Boston and San Juan at the airport. JetBlue operates about 50 flights a day out of Fort Lauderdale and sees potential to double this to 100, as it aims to take advantage of an ongoing expansion at Fort Lauderdale airport's terminal four, which handles international arrivals.

JetBlue operates out of the airport's terminal three, offering flights to several domestic destinations and to international destinations. It will add flights to San Jose, Costa Rica and Medellin, Colombia in June from Fort Lauderdale. JetBlue's flights from international destinations, except for Nassau in the Bahamas which has pre-clearance facilities, arrive at terminal four.

The airline's executives point out that the ramp-up in profitability is relatively quick in its Fort Lauderdale operations, adding that its Bogota route out of the airport is one of its top markets.

The airport's lower operating costs compared with Miami also make it an ideal airport to grow out of, says Hayes. "Miami is four times the cost of operating out of Fort Lauderdale," he says.

JetBlue intends to send a dedicated team to Fort Lauderdale to work with the airport to invest in the infrastructure, says JetBlue chief operating officer Rob Maruster.

"We view our growth there as we view Boston," says Maruster, noting that the airline had worked with Boston airport's operator Massport to grow its operations out of that city.