By Alexander Britell
In what is a significant boost for St Maarten, fast-growing carrier JetBlue is launching a new route to the island next year, Caribbean Journal has learned.
Beginning early 2019, JetBlue will be launching its first-ever flights from Fort Lauderdale to St Maarten, with daily nonstop flights.
The flights look like they will begin operating Feb. 14, according to JetBlue’s Web site and an analysis by Caribbean Journal.
JetBlue has long operated nonstop flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to St Maarten, along with flights between San Juan and St Maarten.
It’s another move strengthening Fort Lauderdale’s growing position as a leading hub for Caribbean travel from the United States.
The new route is subject to the receipt of government operating authority, the company said.
“We constantly review network performance and make adjustments to support our focus city strategy, which is about building up our key markets to be stronger and even more relevant to local travelers,” said Joanna Geraghty, president of JetBlue. “In total, these changes are forecast to generate a substantial improvement in annual profit and strengthen our business as a whole, while allowing us to invest in our growth and our industry-leading customer experience.”
A little over a year after Hurricane Irma largely destroyed St Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport, the island has seen a dramatic airlift recovery with all major U.S. carriers returning, along with new flights from airlines like Sunwing and, most recently, Air France’s millennial-focused airline, Joon.
The new JetBlue routes will be well-timed for the relaunch of several of St Maarten’s leading hotels, most notably the Sonesta Maho and the Sonesta Ocean Point, both of which will have opened by Feb. 1.
On the French side, the island’s most beloved hotel, the Grand Case Beach Club, will open in November, while its luxury Belmond La Samanna is slated to relaunch Dec. 10.