JetBlue to Add Flights to Houston's Hobby Airport

JetBlue Airways Corp. is adding more service to Texas, this time at Houston's William P. Hobby Airport.

The discount carrier said Tuesday that starting Sept. 7, it would operate three daily nonstop flights to Houston from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

JetBlue began its low-cost service to Austin five months ago.

But don't expect to see the New York-based carrier in North Texas anytime soon.

"We've said all along that Love Field is the airport we're most interested in," said JetBlue spokesman Todd Burke. "We're going to wait to see how things with the Wright amendment play out."

Mr. Burke said the carrier isn't planning to serve Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The Wright law limits most commercial flights from Love Field to Texas and eight nearby states.

The cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, along with American Airlines Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co., support an agreement that would allow carriers to fly anywhere in the U.S. from Love, as long as they first stopped in a Wright state. The deal, if passed by Congress into law, would repeal Wright after eight years.

Dallas Mayor Laura Miller said she's been encouraging JetBlue to come to D/FW for several years. "But they could also come under the new arrangement," she said. "They could come to Love Field."

She noted that all the leases at Love "say that the existing carriers have to make room for new entrants."

Houston's Hobby Airport is dominated by low-cost carriers, including Dallas-based Southwest, AirTran Airways Inc. and ATA Airlines Inc.

Richard Vacar, director of the Houston Airport System, said JetBlue would bring "a new dimension of service."

"They're like Southwest," he said.

"When they go somewhere, they build the market and bring new traffic."

The New York-Houston route is now dominated by Continental Airlines Inc., which offers service to all three New York-area airports from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

"Clearly Continental has a strong hold at Intercontinental," Mr. Burke said. "Hobby is a lot closer to the downtown area, so we think we'll get a lot of business there."

ATA already serves New York's LaGuardia Airport from Hobby.

Flying Airbus A320 aircraft, JetBlue will offer introductory fares as low as $99 each way; the carrier's regular fares on its new route are expected to range between $117 and $349 each way.

Mr. Burke said JetBlue's Austin service to New York and Boston has performed well.

Passenger demand between Austin and New York has been so strong, he said, that the carrier has at times flown its 156-seat A320 jets instead of its regular 100-seat Embraer 190 aircraft.

Staff writer Sudeep Reddy contributed to this report from Washington.

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