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JetBlue wants to be No. 1 in Connecticut; adds Hartford routes to California, Las Vegas and Mexico

Sept. 22, 2020
4 min read
JetBlue Plane at FLL Airport
JetBlue wants to be No. 1 in Connecticut; adds Hartford routes to California, Las Vegas and Mexico
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JetBlue Airways is adding more routes for holidaygoers willing to fly during the coronavirus pandemic. The latest comes in Hartford, where the carrier is adding four destinations in the West and Mexico.

The New York-based carrier will add new service between Hartford (BDL) and Cancun (CUN) on Nov. 18, JetBlue said Tuesday. A month later, it will begin flights between the capital of the Nutmeg State and Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX) -- JetBlue's newest base -- and San Francisco (SFO) on Dec. 18.

JetBlue aims to be the largest airline in Connecticut by 2021 with the additions. This would require it to leapfrog ahead of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines; all of which are due to fly more seats and flights from the state than JetBlue in October -- as well as all of 2019 -- according to Cirium schedules.

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(Image courtesy of JetBlue Airways)

“We see great long-term potential for our business in Connecticut, as it becomes an increasingly attractive place to live and work," Scott Laurence, head of revenue and planning at JetBlue, said in a statement.

The new routes come as Connecticut has begun easing its coronavirus travel restrictions. After months of mandatory quarantine, residents and visitors can show either a negative COVID-19 test within the past 72 hours or quarantine for 14 days when arriving from high risk states.

However, fear of COVID-19 and other travel restrictions around the U.S. continue to hit air travel hard. Business travel remains nearly nonexistent with airlines adding flights wherever they see an opportunity to capture the few leisure travelers that are still taking to the skies.

Related: JetBlue continues push beyond focus cities, challenges Delta, United with 24 new routes

JetBlue has added a plethora of new leisure-oriented routes. This includes opening a new base in Los Angeles, beefing up its operation in Newark (EWR) and adding new flights to Florida where the state's beaches continue to attract visitors.

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Alaska Airlines, Delta and Southwest have all added similarly leisure-oriented flights and routes to cater to these pandemic travelers.

However, the additions do not replace all of the travelers who are staying home because of the pandemic. JetBlue has lowered expectations for its third quarter schedule to down 55% compared to 2019 from down 45%.

Related: JetBlue to open LAX base, end flights to Long Beach in West Coast realignment

Hartford has previously boasted service on all four routes JetBlue is adding. American has flown to LAX since 2016 and is due to resume service in November, Cirium schedules show. Delta has connected Hartford and Cancun on a seasonal basis since 2008, and Southwest flew the Hartford-Las Vegas route from its landing at Bradley in 1999 until 2018. United briefly flew between Hartford and San Francisco in 2017 and 2018.

JetBlue's history in Hartford is checkered. The airline ended service to Washington Reagan National (DCA) in July 2019 after flying the route for five years. In September 2019, the airline's director of route planning Andrea Lusso told TPG that it had struggled with "relevancy" on the route due to its small slot portfolio at the restricted Washington airport.

Hartford has been hit hard by the pandemic. During the first seven months of 2020, departing flyer numbers were down nearly 60% year-over-year, according the airport data. Bradley handled 76,822 departing passengers in July compared to 302,636 a year ago.

Related: US airlines ‘fighting for survival’ with no hope of V-shaped recovery

Featured image by (Photo by Markus Mainka/Shutterstock)