PROVIDENCE (CBS) – JetBlue Airways will begin flights to Florida from T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island on November 29.
The announcement was made on the steps of the state capitol, hosted by Governor Lincoln Chafee. JetBlue CEO David Barger was there to deliver the good news. T.F. Green had been holding discussions with the airline for almost 10 years about starting service.
The new flights will be the 75th destination for the New York City based airline. It currently flies to Boston, Burlington, VT., Hartford, CT., and Portland, Maine with seasonal service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket airports in New England.
Two daily flights will be offered to Orlando and one daily flight to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport. To celebrate jetBlue’s 75th destination, fares can be booked for as little as $75 each way through August 1 with travel between November 29 and December 12.
The entrance of jetBlue into the Rhode Island market sets up an interesting battle with low-cost Southwest Airlines, which has the majority of flights to Florida at Green Airport and other destinations.
In an interview after the announcement, Barger praised the cooperation of Rhode Island officials.
“In addition to Florida, this service will offer connections to the Caribbean and Mexico that account for 30 percent of our passengers,” said Barger.
Governor Chafee pointed to the benefit of jetBlue in overall development of the Ocean State. He also pointed to the new T.F. Green station on commuter rail between Boston and the airport as another selling point for passengers.
Patti Goldstein, Vice President of Public Affairs & Air Service Marketing was praised by several speakers as being key to today’s announcement over the past decade.
Barger indicated that a silver horseshoe given to him by a Rhode Island group trying to obtain the flights several years ago is on his desk and has brought everybody good luck.
A large sign floated in the breeze behind he speakers, “Rhode Island Welcomes jetBlue and music was provided by “The Roomful of Blues”, certainly a fitting addition to the festivities.
JetBlue came to Logan Airport in 2003 and is the official airline of the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Marathon. The airline’s first community activity in Rhode Island was to donate $10,000 to purchase books for education in the state.
Standing behind the speakers were a group of the jetBlue team from Boston. 15 out of the start-up team at Green Airport will be Rhode Island workers at Logan transferring to assist in the start-up of over 20 employees.
“All Things Travel” reports by Bob Weiss can be heard on WBZ news Radio.