Several major airlines are adding new flights to the Sunshine State as they wager more people will begin flocking to the state due to Florida’s steadfast determination to remain open during the pandemic and as more and more people receive the COVID-19 vaccines.
JetBlue has new flights heading to Miami, starting today with nonstop daily service from New York JFK, Newark, Boston and Los Angeles. The Los Angeles flights will feature the airline’s Mint class cabin with lie-flat seating.
JetBlue flights from Key West flights will also begin today from New York JFK and Boston Logan. The route will operate seasonally, through April.
According to Travel and Leisure Magazine, airlines “are introducing the new, warm-weather destinations in an effort to capture ‘traffic where the airline anticipates customer demand.’”
“This year has pushed us to find new ways of operating our business and we’ve adapted at a pace we’ve never seen before, pivoting our network in response to changing customer demand,” Scott Laurence, JetBlue’s head of revenue and planning, said in a statement to Travel and Leisure. “We’re continuing to play offense to bring in cash revenue and support our business recovery. These network additions help fine-tune our geography in ways that make sense in today’s market.”
JetBlue Airways is also offering nonstop flights from Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The daily nonstop service to Los Angeles is on a 162-seat Airbus A320 starting March 4.
“We worked 12 years to restore the JAX-LAX route since losing it as a result of the 2008 financial crisis,” Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) CEO Mark VanLoh said on the Authority’s website. “Not only is Los Angeles one of our largest unserved destinations, we are one of theirs as well. This is a huge win.”
VanLoh recognizes this route will not survive without strong support for Northeast Floridians. “Getting the service was our first challenge. Keeping it here and growing the route is the second.” VanLoh said. “That means it’s imperative travelers support the JAX-LAX nonstop.”
Starting today, JetBlue will also offer service to Raleigh-Durham four times per week on a 100-seat Embraer E-190.
“Raleigh-Durham and the Research Triangle are a bright spot in North Carolina’s economy and a market JetBlue seems intent on expanding,” VanLoh said. “We look forward to their service connecting our two wonderful communities.”
Southwest Airlines is also adding two new non-stop routes out of Jacksonville International Airport.
Beginning March 11, Southwest Airlines it will adding service out of Jacksonville to St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Once the routes begin in March, Southwest Airlines will offer a total of nine destinations from the Jacksonville International Airport.
In late January, Southwest Airlines confirmed two new flights to Miami as well as one to Sarasota on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
“The new service continues to expand Southwest’s offerings to warm-weather markets that have held up better than most during the pandemic. Though travel remains down drastically overall compared to pre-pandemic times, the few who are still traveling are almost entirely leisure travelers – and they seem to be seeking out destinations that accommodate outdoor recreation and social distancing,” according to The Points Guy travel blog.
“Southwest’s latest additions come during a broader period of breakneck growth for the carrier. Southwest has used the pandemic as an expansion opportunity, adding 14 new destinations since March 2020,” it continued.
From Miami, Southwest will add new daily service to both Atlanta and Dallas Love Field beginning March 11. That will give Southwest a total of eight destinations from Miami.
In Sarasota, Southwest’s first flights began this month and the carrier is already expanding its schedule there. Southwest will add nonstop service to Atlanta starting March 11, giving it a total of seven year-round or seasonal routes from the city on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
On Florida’s Panhandle, Allegiant will offer a new service from Asheville Regional Airport to Destin via Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport starting May 27. The new route will operate twice weekly.
“With its incredible white sand beaches, Destin is an increasingly sought-after destination for outdoor recreational activities,” said Drew Wells, Allegiant’s senior vice president of revenue, in a press release. “We’re excited to offer our brand of convenient, affordable nonstop service for Ashville residents to access this unique Florida getaway.”
Miami is the center of an expansion by American Airline, with more flights to Latin America, the Caribbean and Israel.
According to a recent article in the Business Insider, “Miami is the focus of the expansion thanks to Florida’s growing popularity as a vacation destination with few COVID-19-related restrictions on businesses, specifically indoor dining. American is the largest carrier at Miami International Airport, one of the major gateways to South Florida, with the expansion bringing more travelers to the region while also opening opportunities to continue further south.
It continued, “And Israel is becoming an American stronghold with a new route from Florida launching just one month after flights between New York and Tel Aviv are launched.”