COLONIE JetBlue’s inaugural flight to Albany International Airport was greeted with a warm reception by various representatives of the Capital District and the traditional cold blast of water canons courtesy of the airport’s emergency crew.
The New York City based-airline officially opened its Albany hub Thursday, Dec. 10.
JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes addressed members of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce before the first flight from Fort Lauderdale, FL touched down on the Albany tarmac shortly before 11 a.m.
“We are thrilled to welcome JetBlue; we’re pleased that they recognize the strength of our marketplace,” said Mark Eagan, CEO of the Capital Region Chamber. “We encourage residents and businesses to utilize Albany International Airport for their air travel needs and take advantage of the additional flights that JetBlue will be offering.”
Albany represents the 93rd city for the relatively young airline, which launched its first commercial flight from New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, FL in February 2000. Albany is among ten new destinations JetBlue has established in the past year. Albany joins other domestic stops in Reno, N.V.; Palm Springs, Calif.; Cleveland; Nashville and Daytona Beach, Fla. Destinations in Mexico City, St. Croix and other Caribbean locations have also opened recently.
Currently, JetBlue has one scheduled flight to and from Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. However, Hayes said he could foresee “six or seven” flights out of Albany with enough consumer support.
Several business were present to showcase the unique products available from the Capital District, such as Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, originally from Syracuse and with a storefront in Troy, and Nine Pin Cider, which was established in Albany. Nine Pin Cider announced its craft beverage line would be available on JetBlue’s first flight out of Albany.
“We are excited to serve the Empire State and provide New York’s capital with a direct connection to the abundance of sunshine Florida has to offer, as well as offer access to many more cities JetBlue connects to through our South Florida focus cities,” said Dave Clark, vice president of network planning, JetBlue. “JetBlue’s first route connected New York and Florida over 15 years ago and we are proud to continue expanding upon that initial connection, reaffirming our commitment to both states over a decade later.”
Orlando and Fort Lauderdale are two of six “focus cities” within the airline’s network of 825 daily flights to 87 cities and 17 countries. With a connection to the two Florida cities, Capital District consumers gain additional options to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and to more exotic destinations in Latin America. Orlando has direct flights to Cancun, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Fort Lauderdale includes flights to Peru and Colombia.
With its arrival to Albany International, JetBlue joins a stable of ten airlines that includes Air Canada, Delta Airlines, Continental (Express and Connection), American Eagle, Northwest, Southwest and United. Among those companies, both JetBlue (established in 2000) and American Eagle (1998) represent the relative new kids on the block compared to Delta Airlines (1929) and Air Canada (1937).
Daily service from Albany to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood and Orlando operates on JetBlue’s spacious, 150-seat A320 aircraft, which amenities include free Fly-Fi, unlimited snacks and soft drinks, 36 channels of DIRECTV programming and 100-plus channels of Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
As JetBlue’s first A320 touched down in Albany, the airline advertised one-way flights as low as $89 to Ft. Lauderdale next January. “Just in time for winter,” tweeted United States Senator Charles Schumer (D, NY), who was also among the several dignitaries on hand to welcome the airlines to the Capital District.