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JetBlue here to stay

Airline boss proud after inaugural Piarco flight
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Airport’s Authority chairman Jason Julien, from left, US Embassy charge d’affaires Keith Gilges, Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma, JetBlue Airways vice-president, government affairs Jeffrey Goodell, and Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz, display JetBlue tokens after US airline’s maiden flight from JFK International Airport arrived at the Piarco International Airport yesterday. PHOTO: SEAN NERO

It’s official. JetBlue has touched down in T&T and is here to stay. However, vice-president, government affairs, Jeffrey Goodell, says the airline is not here to steal the market share from the other competing airlines. Speaking at a news conference in the VIP lounge of the Piarco International Airport yesterday, shortly after the inaugural flight touched down from New York, Goodell said the T&T market is one which the airline knew it would do “well” in and it “was just a matter of finding the right time when there was an eagerness for additional airlift.”


In mid-February, at the ceremony to hand over instruments of appointment to new Airport Authority of T&T board members, Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz had confirmed that JetBlue was expected to enter T&T before the month ended. Yesterday, Goodell said the airline was proud to have added the T&T to New York route to its schedule and said they expect to add more flights as it deepens its footprint in the T&T market. He said in the first instance they will only be servicing the Piarco to new York route, but noted that expansion would come. “Based on what we are seeing in terms of bookings, just Port-of-Spain so far, I think the potential for serving Tobago is certainly there in the coming years.”


Weighing in on its experience of more than a decade in the aviation business, Goodell said the airline’s strategy when entering a market has always been about the right service. “We don’t need to steal market share, we are able to expand the pie to create demand to stimulate demand and we do that by low fares and great service.” Goodell also announced a local touch to their service as well.


Ron Woodruff, a T&T national who was born in La Romaine and migrated to New York at the age of 14, in one of the pilots who will be working on the route. Contacted yesterday, Caribbean Airlines Ltd communications manager Clint Williams said they were not daunted by another brand entering the T&T market. He said CAL has brand loyalty within the T&T market and enjoys a leadership position as well, and welcomed competition as it was good for the airline industry.