People make comments to me that JetBlue needs to make a profit at Worcester to stay here. Obviously this is true, but at the same time, JetBlue is committed to Worcester long-term.
If they do not make money during the first six months, they are not pulling out of Worcester. They know this will take time!
This is a very unique situation in Worcester. Of the 80+ cities that JetBlue services, I believe that we are the first city that they ever entered that had no commercial service at all. We did not have commercial service for over 18 months and even then it was not a real airline—Direct Air. Before that it was a Allegiant Airlines, a good airline but not in the same class as JetBlue. Not only do they need people to fly JetBlue, but they need people to fly out of Worcester.
Paying it forward
Don’t get me wrong, JetBlue will need to make money in Worcester, but they know it will take time. The fact that ORH is now owned by Massport allows us more time to make the operation profitable for JetBlue in Worcester. We never would have gotten JetBlue to entertain Worcester as an option if Massport did not take complete ownership of ORH. The bottom line is that Massport has a very strong partnership with JetBlue in Boston—one of their focus cities—and this benefits us tremendously!
The thing JetBlue also needs to take into consideration is the goodwill that they have generated throughout Central Massachusetts. Right now I have my JetBlue AmEx card, follow them on Twitter and have 23,000 TrueBlue Points. If I am going to fly to Las Vegas or some other destination that JetBlue serves, am I going to fly SouthWest, Delta, or American-US Air? No, I will fly JetBlue!
Slowly but surely
In the past I would say one of the most popular airlines for people in Central Mass was SouthWest out of either Providence or Manchester, but mostly Providence. I barely hear people mention SouthWest anymore and I suspect they are the biggest casualty of JetBlue flying to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando out of Worcester. In fact, recently I saw a billboard for TF Green on Route 146 in Worcester reminding people to come to their airport.
It will take time to turn Worcester into a profit center for JetBlue, but I am confident that it will happen, and the fact that Massport owns ORH will give us the time that will be needed to make this happen. I hope, however, JetBlue notices the spike in passengers flying JetBlue in Central Massachusetts whether it is Boston, Providence, or Hartford by their presence at Worcester Regional Airport and take that into consideration when looking at their bottom line.