Discount carrier JetBlue Airways Corp. on Wednesday began flying from Newark Liberty International Airport to two airports in Florida, with plans to fly to three other Sunshine State airports, and to Puerto Rico, next month.
The new flights challenge Continental Airlines Inc., the dominant carrier among the airport's 45 airlines, with about one-third of the flights. Newark is one of Houston-based Continental's three hub airports.
JetBlue started flying Wednesday to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. On Oct. 19, it adds service to three more Florida locations: Fort Myers, Tampa and West Palm Beach. JetBlue's sixth destination from Newark will start Nov. 17 with daily service to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The airline expects to offer 16 daily nonstop flights from Newark by Thanksgiving.
Continental has responded by adding new flights and lowering fares to Florida.
New York-based JetBlue will probably bring an additional 250,000 passengers to Newark Liberty in its first year, and more than 1 million in its second 12 months, said Anthony R. Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Newark Liberty is already among the nation's busiest airports, handling about 32 million passengers a year on 435,000 flights. International traffic at Newark has nearly doubled since the completion in 1996 of an international arrivals facility in Terminal B.
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Jetblue's lower airfares to Florida are likely to woo an additional million passengers a year to Newark Liberty Int'l Airport within two years.
The flight will leave Mercedita airport in Ponce in the morning for Newark Liberty international airport and return before dawn.
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