Thursday, December 7, 2017

JetBlue flights from Worcester Regional Airport to New York will begin in May



The much-anticipated JetBlue flights to New York from Worcester Regional Airport will begin in May, the head of the airline announced Thursday.

Flight 671 will leave Worcester on Thursday, May 3, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes announced. It will have fliers at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City before 7 a.m.

"You have to get up early. This flight is aimed to be a gateway to the world," Hayes said.

That first flight will connect passengers to international flights, or provide a full day in New York.

The first flight from JFK back to Worcester will have passengers back before midnight, Hayes said.

Flights from Worcester to JFK are the latest investment in the airport, with more expected to come in the future.

Hayes addressed about 300 members of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce as the keynote speaker for the December breakfast club meeting Thursday morning.



The JetBlue expansion was announced earlier this year. JetBlue already flies out of Worcester to Orlando International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Those flights are 10 to 20 percent cheaper than flying to Florida from Logan International Airport, Hayes said.

Anyone who books a Worcester to New York flight Thursday or Friday will get a special one-way fare of $29, Hayes said.

Initial prices for the daily one-way flights -- which will get passengers into New York before 7 a.m. with return trips landing in Worcester around midnight -- will be $34 to $39, a JetBlue spokeswoman said. Rates for passengers who purchase tickets that day may be more expensive.

Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, who is also the chairman of the Massport board, said he is checking his schedule to see if he can book a ticket for the introductory flight to JFK.

"We all know, you don't really get home until you get back in Worcester county if you're from this area. It's sort of like getting to Logan is only half the battle then you figure, oh my God, how am going to get home from Logan," he said. "You won't feel that way when you land in Worcester. You'll be home."

Flights to JFK add to the allure of the airport. Other airlines are reportedly eyeing Worcester as well.

"I can assure you that there are several other airlines looking at what's happening in Worcester, excited about the possibilities in Worcester, and it's likely they're going to continue this investment in Worcester and flights," Evangelidis said. "But we need to prove ourselves through what's happening here first."

The New York flights will begin after the completion of the Category III, or CAT III, instrument landing system. CAT III is a $30 million investment that will allow planes to land in low visibility weather conditions.

Hayes said JetBlue is "very excited" about having CAT III in Worcester.

At its peak in 1989, Worcester Regional Airport served more than 340,000 people. JetBlue came to the airport in 2013. In its first three years, more than 350,000 flew JetBlue from Worcester to Florida.

Worcester was the 79th city JetBlue added to its roster. Now the airline flies out of 101 and cities.

"My pronunciation is pretty good, right," Hayes said, joking that he can pronounce "Worcester" with ease because he's from England, which has its own Worcester.

JetBlue had its first flight out of JFK on Feb. 11, 2000, Hayes said. The company employees more than 21,000 people and the acceptance rate of getting into JetBlue is lower than getting into Harvard University, he joked.

Massport owns and operates Worcester Regional Airport in addition to Boston Logan International Airport, public terminals in the Port of Boston and Hanscom Field.

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