JetBlue-Spirit Combination Unlocks Opportunities to Further Disrupt the ‘Big Four’ Airlines With More Low-Fare Options in South Florida and Across the U.S.
JetBlue Supports Broward County’s Master Plan for Airport as Airline Seeks to Add 1,000 New Jobs and Reaffirms Commitment to Spirit’s New Dania Beach Support Center
JetBlue (NASDAQ: JBLU) today announced new service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and Tallahassee International Airport (TLH) beginning in January 2024, as the airline lays out new plans for more low-fare, high-value flights in South Florida. After its planned combination with Spirit, JetBlue expects to reach more than 250 flights a day at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood by 2027.
“As a customer-centric alternative to the high-fare legacy airline that dominates South Florida, we have achieved rapid growth in Fort Lauderdale and are ready to turbocharge further expansion once we combine with Spirit,” said Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue. “You shouldn’t have to choose between a low fare and a great experience. JetBlue offers both, and that’s why we are uniquely positioned to challenge the Big Four airlines and boost competition in Florida and across the country.”
Broward County’s master plan for further development of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport would enable JetBlue to grow to more than 250 daily flights. JetBlue has already committed support for a new Terminal 5 and is ready to partner with the airport on further expansion to increase capacity.
“We commend JetBlue for expanding and providing more direct flights between the capital and South Florida,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “These new low-fare flights will further benefit Florida’s thriving economy by bringing more jobs to our communities, and adding more choices for affordable air travel within the state. We look forward to JetBlue’s continued expansion in Fort Lauderdale.”
“We applaud JetBlue's plans to offer new nonstop jet service from FLL to Tallahassee next January, an option long sought after for many years, and we are encouraged by their support for FLL’s Master Plan,” said Mark E. Gale, FLL CEO/Director of Aviation. “We look forward to working with JetBlue on its robust growth plans for FLL, which includes new international service,” Gale noted.
“FLL is one of America’s dynamic emerging travel hubs and I’m proud of the commitment, history and role that JetBlue and its amazing workers have played in that,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25). “It’s especially encouraging that JetBlue’s growth plans will not only build on that and bring new jobs, but it will also more closely connect our community with Florida’s seat of government in Tallahassee, where more direct citizen engagement and input is always welcome.”
More Routes, More Choices for South Florida
Since making Fort Lauderdale a JetBlue focus city, the airline’s much-loved experience – with the most legroom in coach (a), free seatback entertainment, free Fly-Fi high speed internet (b), free snacks, and friendly service – quickly positioned it as a preferred carrier in South Florida.
JetBlue plans to combine with Spirit and further grow its Fort Lauderdale schedule over the coming years, ultimately reaching more than 250 daily departures by 2027 and making Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood an even more compelling choice for South Florida customers. While both carriers have had success in Fort Lauderdale, the combination between JetBlue and Spirit will unlock long-term opportunities to add domestic and international markets and routes that would not be possible otherwise:
- JetBlue would offer flights to approximately 30 markets not served by either JetBlue or Spirit from Fort Lauderdale today and would add more flight frequencies to approximately 30 additional markets.
- Fort Lauderdale will become an even more attractive alternative to Miami on more routes. From Fort Lauderdale, JetBlue and Spirit currently serve 66 of the top 100 markets available from Miami International Airport today (within range of existing and planned JetBlue fleet). After completing its planned expansion, JetBlue would serve from Fort Lauderdale approximately 90 of the top 100 Miami markets.
- With a more competitive position in South Florida, JetBlue would plan to launch service between Fort Lauderdale and Europe with its game-changing transatlantic Mint and core experiences that have brought down high fares for European travel.
- The larger network would make a number of routes viable that aren't today, with examples including destinations like as Antigua; Belize; Cincinnati; Liberia, Costa Rica; Minneapolis; Memphis, Tenn.; and Savannah, Ga.
Connecting South Florida to the State Capital
Convenient travel to Tallahassee is essential, given its critical role as the Florida state capital and as home to major universities, however its distance from South Florida puts it just too far to easily drive. JetBlue’s daily service will offer those travelling back and forth for business or education an affordable and comfortable option, while also creating opportunities for both leisure and business customers traveling from Tallahassee to connect in Fort Lauderdale to other JetBlue destinations.
JetBlue plans to start new service between Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee in January 2024. Flights will go on sale in the coming months.
“There are few cheap and easy ways to get between South Florida and the state capital today,” said Dave Clark, head of revenue and planning, JetBlue. “Building off the success of our Jacksonville to Fort Lauderdale route, we’re excited to announce this important intra-Florida flight as the first of many new routes to come.”
“I am proud to welcome JetBlue to Florida's capital city!” said Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey. “Tallahassee is thriving, and this exciting news is another example of the many great things coming to fruition around our growing community and at the Tallahassee International Airport. The addition of JetBlue is the result of long-term, focused planning efforts and investments at TLH to expand air service in a way that brings value to our community.”
Commitment to South Florida and FLL’s Master Plan
JetBlue’s expansion plan, which will be bolstered by its planned acquisition of Spirit, underscores the airline’s long-term commitment to Florida and signals support for the airport’s master plan to further grow and develop airport facilities.
“We are eager to work with Broward County and airport officials to make this vision a reality,” Hayes said. “We fully support Broward County’s plan for future airport development. The region is growing quickly and will need more flights to meet demand. And our commitment goes well beyond a bigger flight schedule. We plan to build a maintenance hangar at the airport, while also maintaining Spirit’s new Dania Beach support center and our fast-growing JetBlue Travel Products business already based in Broward County.”
JetBlue has a long history of collaborating with Broward County and the airline community on projects to grow and to improve the customer experience at the airport, including development of a new baggage system for Terminal 3 and upgrades to the lobbies, concessions, and other facilities. JetBlue is currently partnering with the airport to design and build the new Terminal 5, a five-gate facility with a connection to Terminal 4, new roadways, a skybridge to the parking garage and new remote aircraft parking positions. This project is expected to be completed in mid-2026.
JetBlue estimates its plan would add approximately 1,000 incremental new jobs at the airline’s Fort Lauderdale operations, and further support economic activity across the region that will lead to additional job growth. In addition, JetBlue’s no furlough policy ensures that current Spirit team members who wish to stay with the combined airline will have a role with JetBlue. Today, JetBlue and Spirit employ nearly 13,000 people in Florida, with service to 10 airports across the state. JetBlue has committed to insourcing many jobs that Spirit currently outsources to third-party providers. In addition, JetBlue maintains a focus city at MCO, support center, and crewmember training campus in Orlando.
JetBlue believes competition is essential to a healthy airline industry. Even as it grows in South Florida to offer more low-fare, high-quality choices, it is committed to making room for additional service at the airport. As part of its proposal to combine with Spirit, JetBlue would relinquish a number of preferentially leased gates to other ultra low-cost carriers.
“On every level, more JetBlue flights to more destinations is going to be great for South Florida customers, and we welcome other low-cost carriers to join us in challenging the Big Four airlines who control around 80% of the U.S. market,” Hayes said.