JetBlue Gets Ready for Battle Against Delta With Atlanta-Boston Route

  • Flight is part of plan to expand Boston service about 40%
  • New York airline also to serve other cities from Atlanta

JetBlue Airways Corp. plans to increase daily flights from Boston by about 40 percent, including new service to Atlanta as the carrier steps up competition with Delta Air Lines Inc.

In addition to the Boston-Atlanta route starting March 30, JetBlue plans to add flights in the second half of 2017 between the Georgia city and New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Florida, the airline said in a statement Wednesday. Delta is based in Atlanta and uses the city as a crucial hub.

JetBlue’s plan to expand Boston daily departures to 200 from 140 follows Delta’s mid-August announcement of new routes from the city to San Francisco and Nashville, Tennessee. The New York-based airline’s major presence in Boston and its national brand recognition should increase chances for success in Atlanta compared with an earlier brief tenure there, said Rob Britton, who heads the aviation consulting firm AirLearn. It will face off with Southwest Airlines Co. in the city as well as with Delta.

Not Easy

“Delta now offers Basic Economy, a lower-tier fare, which they have used effectively to compete with Spirit and other low-cost carriers,” Britton said by e-mail. “Notwithstanding the recent computer mess, Delta’s reliability is outstanding. So it won’t be easy for JetBlue.”

JetBlue’s stock rose 2.8 percent to $16.72 at 3:16 p.m. in New York. Industry shares climbed the most in almost two months after Southwest said it would keep capacity in check next year.

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Delta, which canceled 2,300 flights last month following a computer disruption, has focused heavily on the Massachusetts capital in recent years and added it to a list of hubs and key markets about two years ago. The airline plans to expand Boston flights to 90 a day by June. As of May, Southwest had 126 daily departures from Atlanta and as many as 39 at Boston.

“Boston travelers have spoken, and we are listening by adding Atlanta to our route map,” Marty St. George, a JetBlue executive vice president, said in the statement. The new flights mark JetBlue’s return to Atlanta after leaving the city in 2003 amid growing competition from Delta and discounter AirTran Airways.

Head-to-Head

Delta operates hourly shuttle service between Boston’s Logan International and New York’s LaGuardia 16 times a day, as well as eight daily flights from Boston to Kennedy. JetBlue previously said it would offer six daily weekday flights between LaGuardia and Boston starting Oct. 31, with two round trips on Saturdays and three on Sundays.

JetBlue also will add a fourth daily round-trip flight with its premium Mint service between Boston and San Francisco in July to meet growing demand and will expand seasonal service to year-round between Boston and the Caribbean destinations of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

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