Not long after JetBlue Airways first took to the skies in 2000, Rhode Island officials hoping to bring it to T.F. Green International Airport began a courtship of the low-cost carrier that would last more than a decade.
In July, those efforts finally came to fruition when JetBlue announced it would add the Warwick airport to its list of destinations with three daily round-trip flights to Florida starting in November.
So now that Rhode Island has finally landed JetBlue, airport leaders are hoping it will mark the beginning of a resurgence for T.F. Green after years of post-recession declines in passenger numbers.
“There is anticipated to be a bump – having available seats to fill is one way to increase our numbers,” said Peter Frazier, interim president and CEO of the R.I. Airport Corporation, about the impact of JetBlue on traffic at Green. “Anytime you have a new entrant and competition, there is historically an increase. And it causes the incumbent carriers to remind people they are still here.”
To kick off its arrival in Rhode Island, JetBlue is dangling special offers – $75 one-way tickets to Florida during two weeks in early December – raising the possibility that the new competition will lead to deals from other carriers.
But the long-term impact of JetBlue’s arrival at Green will depend on whether the new planes taking off from the airport are filled and trigger more new flights.
While JetBlue is starting with three roundtrips, state and airport leaders see those flights as a jumping-off point for expansion and additional routes from Green in the near future.
At the same time it enters Rhode Island, JetBlue is also expanding its destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America, leading to speculation that service from Green to places like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic could be next.