By Bob Weiss

BOSTON (CBS) – Already the number one airline in Boston, JetBlue Airways is looking to expand next year at both the Providence and Worcester airports. The Providence start-up could come as soon as this winter to leisure winter markets.

JetBlue President and CEO Dave Barger made the expansion comments after his remarks to The Boston College Chief Executives Club this noon at The Boston Harbor Hotel.

With its initial start at Logan on January 7, 2004, Jet Blue now ranks number one with about 23 percent of Logan Airport’s traffic. Boston is JetBlue’s second most important market behind JFK Airport in New York. JetBlue officials were at T.F. Green Airport last week and were impressed, according to Barger.

JetBlue currently has over 100 departures at Logan Airport and expects that figure to grow to 150 flights a day by the end of next year. The carrier could then have about seven million passengers using Boston.

Addressing a business audience of over 300 executives, Barger made the pitch for greater use of his airline by business travel to markets like New York, Newark and Washington. Getting more business travelers away from other major airlines is the major problem faced by JetBlue and Southwest Airlines. The so-called legacy airlines depend on their frequent flyer programs to build traffic.

bobweiss All Things Travel: JetBlue Expands

Bob Weiss, CBS Boston travel contributor

The German airline Lufthansa is a major financial partner of JetBlue and is using Logan Airport as a U.S. arrival point for domestic connections.

JetBlue’s next major new market will be St. Thomas from Boston starting in December.

Barger said in his remarks that one of the greatest problems facing the aviation industry is building a new air traffic control system to get planes to their destinations faster. The current system was devised in the 1940’s.

“The Economy is O.K., but not robust,” said Barger on a day when the stock market dropped another 300 points. “We tend to do better when the economy is hurting,” he added.

Like everyone else, Barger is pulling for the Red Sox to make it to the baseball playoffs.

The Red Sox will hold its 2012 spring training season in a new facility, JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers opening next February, which is a replica of Fenway Park and will seat 11,000 fans.

Bob Weiss’ All Things Travel reports can be heard on WBZ.


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