JetBlue is landing at Albany International Airport with daily service to Florida taking off by next year.
The airline will establish two direct flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in 2015. JetBlue’s presence is expected to boost competition among airlines at Albany Airport and drive down fares.
“We are very excited because it’s growth at the airport,” said John O’Donnell, CEO of Albany Airport, during a press conference at the airport on Monday. “Traditionally the fares of JetBlue are lower than competitors, so as a result fares will go down for other airlines to compete.”
Robin Hayes, senior vice president of JetBlue, said a start date for JetBlue’s service next year will be announced later this year. Fares for flights are not known at this time.
JetBlue will be competing directly with Southwest Airlines for flights to and from Florida. Hayes said JetBlue already competes with Southwest at other locations and “will enjoy very much competing with them” in Albany.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said he expects JetBlue to expand its service at Albany Airport over the next several years. He said two flights a day is “only the beginning.”
“Once people here see JetBlue’s quality and once JetBlue sees the great ridership that they will get, I am confident those numbers will expand,” Schumer said. “This great start will grow.”
Schumer also expects more companies, particularly high-tech companies, to locate in the Albany area following JetBlue’s commitment. He pointed to the region’s growing nanotechnology sector with computer chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries and the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
“New high-tech companies are coming to the Capital Region and existing companies are growing,” Schumer said. “So all of this is going to be great potential for more growth here in Albany.”
Albany Airport currently has 225 direct employees and 1,200 indirect employees from Air Traffic Control and the Transportation Security Administration. O’Donnell said JetBlue’s presence will create more than a dozen direct jobs.
The addition of JetBlue will also increase the number of travelers at Albany Airport. O’Donnell said there is available space for the planes to park, but not for cars to park.
“Even today we are very close to being out of parking available,” O’Donnell said. “We park about 4,000 cars per night and we will need to increase that by at least 500 just to handle the traffic JetBlue will be bringing in.”
O’Donnell said finding space for the parking lot could prove to be a challenge. But he stressed that additional parking spaces is a priority and the airport “does not want to turn anyone away.”
JetBlue is New York’s largest airline, serving 7.5 million travelers last year. Albany Airport marks JetBlue’s eighth market in the state.
The news comes following a push last month by Schumer to bring JetBlue to Albany. Schumer previously spearheaded JetBlue’s services in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.
“I started a campaign to bring JetBlue service here and I have been working on this for a long, long time,” Schumer said. “As a politician if there is one thing I know how to do it is how to launch a campaign.”