Above: a JetBlue plane
By Alexander Britell
Continuing its Caribbean expansion, New York City-based air carrier JetBlue announced Thursday that it would begin service to Haiti’s Port-au-Prince.
The flights, which will include one daily nonstop flight between New York’s John F Kennedy Airport and Port-au-Prince and twice-daily flights between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port-au-Prince. Service will begin Dec. 5.
We applaud JetBlue’s decision to begin flights between JFK and Fort Lauderdale to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as of December 2013. This news is welcomed by the Haitian community which has been waiting for the happy day when we can enjoy JetBlue’s award-winning service,” said the Consul General of the Republic of Haiti in New York, Charles Antoine Forbin, in a release. “Thank you JetBlue for casting your vote towards the development of our country and giving our diaspora the opportunity to visit the Motherland more often.”
The move provides a significant lift for a country that has been making a concerted effort to grow its tourism sector.
“This is great news for Haiti, particularly for the tourism sector,” Tourism Minister Stephanie Villedrouin said in a statement to Caribbean Journal. “Last month, following an invitation of the Ministry of Tourism, the JetBlue team had came to Port-au-Prince to visit our airport facilities and they met with the Haitian Aviation and Airport Authorities. Less then a month after their visit, they had decided to serve the destination. This confirms that Haiti is open for business and tourism.”
It’s the latest new destination for JetBlue, which has been ramping up coverage to the region, particularly since the departure of American Eagle.
“With expansion into Port-au-Prince, we plan to meet the demand for quality service to Haiti by offering competitive fares to the large Haitian diaspora in the United States,” said Scott Laurence, vice president of network planning at JetBlue. “In turn, we look forward to helping to support the community on the island.”
JetBlue recently partnered with the Carbonfund.org foundation to plant 83,000 trees in north and northwest Haiti to improve forest cover in the country.
JetBlue’s flights from New York will be operated on Airbus A320 with seating for 150, while Fort Lauderdale flights will fly 100-seat Embraer 190s.
“I am confident with Jet Blue we will be able to plan tourist packages for Haitians leaving abroad especially for the youth who wants to travel and visit their country of origin,” Villedrouin said.
That would accompany ongoing talks by the Ministry with Delta and Air France on similar packages, according to Villedrouin.
For more on JetBlue’s Caribbean push, read Caribbean Journal’s recent interview with Chad Meyerson, global sales director at the company.