AirTran Airways has applied for regulatory approval to launch three new Caribbean destinations-Nassau, Montego Bay and Aruba-after mulling an expansion into that region for years.

The low-cost carrier has discussed the potential for Caribbean service 2007, when it exited its only international route at that time, Freeport, Bahamas.

Since then the airline has added Cancun and San Juan to its network, and AirTran vice president for marketing and planning Kevin Healy told ATI this June that the carrier was studying several new markets in the Caribbean and Canada.

Under its latest US DOT proposal, the airline would fly year-round from Atlanta, Baltimore and Orlando to both Nassau and Montego Bay.

AirTran would also connect Atlanta and Orlando with Aruba, and all of its proposed operations would begin later this year or in early 2010.

AirTran's DOT application comes on the same day that JetBlue Airways announced that it plans to seek approval from the Jamaican government to inaugurate flights between Orlando and Montego Bay, a route presently served daily by Jamaican flag carrier Air Jamaica. AirTran would also face competition from Air Jamaica between Baltimore and Montego Bay.

Schedules in Innovata also show AirTran would compete with fellow low-cost carrier JetBlue on flights from Orlando to Nassau, and its rival Delta on flighs from Atlanta to Montego Bay, Aruba and Nassau.

No carrier currently serves Orlando-Aruba or Baltimore-Nassau, according to Innovata.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news