Miami International Airport wants JetBlue Latin America routes

Written by Gabriela Henriquez Stoikow  on September 13, 2022


Miami-Dade is trying to lure expanding JetBlue airline to add links between Puerto Rico and other Caribbean and Latin American destinations and Miami International Airport.

At a committee meeting Tuesday, county commissioners unanimously without discussion directed the mayor to work with JetBlue and report in November.

The document notes that although JetBlue serves more than 30 destinations from Miami International, its route map doesn’t include Puerto Rico or other Latin American or Caribbean destinations.

In the region, JetBlue’s website lists routes from MIA only to Los Cabos, Mexico, and Bermuda.

JetBlue’s service from South Florida to Puerto Rico and other Latin American or Caribbean destinations is from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

JetBlue’s website lists 43 routes to the region from the Broward airport, including tourist destinations such as San Juan, Puerto Rico; Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Bogota and Cartagena, Colombia; Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador; and Aruba.

“Not only is this lack of service potentially causing Miami-Dade County to lose revenue, but it also inconveniences the many residents of Miami-Dade County who seek to fly JetBlue to Puerto Rico or other Latin American or Caribbean destinations,” the county document says.

Census data show that Miami-Dade has 69.1% Hispanic population. The county resolution estimates that over 70% of Miami-Dade residents are of Latin American descent, “and a significant portion of the population is of Puerto Rican descent.”

JetBlue first launched in Miami in February 2021. A 2021 Aviation Department report lists it as the eighth busiest airline at MIA. The entry to the Miami market is estimated to generate nearly $915 million in business revenue and 7,300 local jobs.

JetBlue, one of the nation’s largest low-cost airlines, is expected to continue growing due to its recent deal to buy Spirit Airlines. The merger would create the nation’s fifth-largest airline, with more than 10% of the market, media reports cite. A final deal is targeted to close in fall and win regulators’ final approval by early 2024.

MIA has long tried to bring JetBlue to the airport. Aviation marketing manager Chris Mangos told the newspaper in January 2006 that JetBlue “is not shy about going into larger, more expensive airports when they know they’ll be well-received. We find that encouraging, and we are hopeful that 2006 will be the year that we see JetBlue here.”

But historically, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International became known for low-cost flight options, while Miami has been widely recognized as an international hub.

A 2010 report by Miami Today noted that in May of that year MIA handled only three low-cost carriers: AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines and WestJet. The Broward airport had five: JetBlue, AirTran Airways, Midwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines.

In 2010, then-Miami-Dade Aviation Director José Abreu said officials were mulling a business model switch that could attract more low-cost carriers, but the aim was not to develop a discount-carrier hub. “I don’t know that this will ever be a low-cost carrier airport…. First class and business class is big business for us,” he said.

That seems to be shifting, as MIA is currently served by more low-cost airlines such as JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest, and Frontier Airlines.

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