It's been an action-packed week for low-fare carrier JetBlue Airways, which launches service today between Pittsburgh International Airport and airports in New York and Boston. Earlier this week, JetBlue announced plans to start flying this fall between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and airports in Houston, Tucson, Ariz., and Sarasota, Fla.
On Thursday, J.D. Power Associates and Aviation Week magazine said the airline, known for creature comforts such as satellite television and radio in each of its leather seats, ranked highest among low-fare carriers in customer satisfaction.
And today, JetBlue launches service between Buffalo, N.Y., and Boston, as well as the Pittsburgh routes. A host of activities are planned at the Findlay Township airport this morning, including a performance by the Ambridge Area High School marching band and a ribbon-cutting leading up to the inaugural flight.
JetBlue will offer four daily flights between Pittsburgh and New York and two daily flights between Pittsburgh and Boston's Logan International Airport. One-way fares will start at $64 and $79, respectively.
Kent George, executive director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, said JetBlue will provide needed competition on the New York and Boston routes. Currently, only Delta offers nonstop flights to New York's JFK, and only US Airways and United Airlines fly direct to Boston.
"We've been concentrating on markets within the continental U.S. that need competition. Competition is good for the flying public, because it lowers fares. And I think it's good for the airlines, too, because it keeps them on the top of their game," George said. The last-minute fares offered by traditional, or legacy, carriers, have already come down to compete with those offered by JetBlue. According to the travel search engine Kayak.com, JetBlue's lowest fare on a Pittsburgh-to-JFK round trip departing Sunday and returning the day after the Fourth of July was listed at $269, $4 more than Delta's lowest offer.
In March, before JetBlue announced it was coming to Pittsburgh, last-minute fares to New York and Boston both were more than 80 percent higher than they are now, said Jenny Dervin, a JetBlue spokeswoman.
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