Carole Shifrin/NEW YORK

New York start-up JetBlue Airways is rapidly building its service schedule, with high load factors achieved in its first few weeks of operation. The low-fares carrier claims that 20% of its sales are being made on the Internet.

JetBlue will add services to Orlando on 21 June and launch three more destinations in July and August as it takes delivery of new aircraft. JetBlue also is increasing services to Buffalo, New York, to five daily roundtrips and to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to four daily roundtrips. The carrier plans to add three more destinations in the autumn to end the year with 10 aircraft serving 10 cities from New York's Kennedy Airport.

JetBlue was launched in February with more than $3 million in advance bookings and at least 50 flights sold out. "I think we sold out too quickly at lower fares," says JetBlue's founder and chief executive David Neeleman. Overall, loads for the carrier during its first two months of operation are estimated near 70%. So far, close to 20% of JetBlue's bookings have been through the Internet. Owen says the carrier hopes to boost that by offering an incentive - possibly a ticket discount or free access to its onboard television programming.

With the number of flights at Kennedy limited between 15:00 and 20:00, JetBlue had to obtain take-off and landing slots from the US Department of Transportation. The airline was given 75 slots during those key late afternoon and early evening hours, to be phased in over the first three years of operations. The airline expects to have 30 Airbus A320s operating to 30 cities from New York by the end of its first three years.

Source: Airline Business