Last Monday JetBlue shut down operations at LaGuardia, Newark, JFK and Boston for 17 hours, from 5 pm to 10 am the next morning. During this shutdown, however, ORH stayed open and saw their only two scheduled JetBlue flights from Fort Lauderdale and
In fact, the website that I run spiked to 1,000 hits per day during this time period, when it typically averages 350. Although this was bad situation, it was a great opportunity for Worcester to showcase their new flights and their ability to perform at a high level during tough conditions. I would like especially thank Andy LaCombe and Channel 3 for providing great coverage.
Working out the kinks
It has been two months since the start of service from JetBlue on November 7th, and people are starting to realize that 1) prices are competitive, 2) the airport can be found easily, and 3) the convenience is beyond anything they have ever experienced. Our only real problem—which we were aware of— is fog. As a result, Massport is working to install CAT III landing equipment, which will enable landing with almost zero visibility, to address low visibility conditions.
This new landing system, however, will take a couple years to deal with. In the meantime, we need to make the ground transportation options for when flights are diverted as convenient as possible. As I have stated many times before, JetBlue does a great job providing ground transportation…if your flight is diverted on the same day. On the other hand, if your flight is diverted a day in advance, no ground transportation is provided. A bus should be provided from ORH as an option, even with a fee. Ultimately I hope the Boston Logan Express bus service adds Worcester to their route map.
Above and beyond
Last week something else happened that has flown under the radar. Worcester Airport received better approach minimums from the FAA to land in Worcester, which will cut back on the fog cancellations. It was estimated that half the cancellations that we have had to date with JetBlue may have been able to land with these new requirements. Let me say that again—half the cancellations would not have happened! We still don’t have CAT III, but this will help so much that I can see this helping convince JetBlue to bring more flights into ORH this year.
Between staying open when everyone else had to close, and these new approach minimums from the FAA, last week was a great week for Worcester Airport. However, that does not mean we will not have growing pains and more problems going forward.