On a day that was to mark the significant reduction of air access from the US mainland to Puerto Rico and other destinations in the Caribbean, the region is celebrating the addition of new flights and the preservation of routes that were slated for cancellation. Through a series of negotiations and the implementation of an airline incentive program by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), the airline industry is once again looking to the Caribbean as a region with tremendous potential for revenue. For local businesses, especially those connected with the tourism industry, this is a much-needed vote of confidence.
“The cancellation of these flights was not just an issue for Puerto Rico, but for the entire Caribbean,” Terestella Gonzalez-Denton, executive director of PRTC said. “As the gateway to the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is a conduit for travelers visiting other islands. Air access to the region is especially important to our hotel and cruise industries, and the consequences of limited air access would have had devastating results. However, our work with the government of Puerto Rico and the visionary thinking of our partners in the airline industry is giving the Caribbean the tools it needs to sustain the growth we’ve experienced in the past few years,” added Gonzalez-Denton.
In response to the threat of losing vital routes to Puerto Rico, the PRTC, in association with the government of Puerto Rico, set out to create programs that would entice airlines to retain and increase their service to the island. PRTC has also embarked on an aggressive media campaign to sustain demand for flights to Puerto Rico and remind travelers that the island is still very much accessible. In addition, a co-op marketing program created by the PRTC will match every dollar, up to $3 million, that the airline industry spends in the promotion of travel to Puerto Rico. PRTC continues its negotiations with airlines to increase seat capacity for primary markets.
New and Reinstated Air Service to Puerto Rico Includes:
– American Airlines will continue non-stop service from Los Angeles (LAX) and Baltimore (BWI) to San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU).
– JetBlue Airways announced that it will add four flights to San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) at the beginning of September 2008. Additionally, they will add a fifth daily flight from SJU to JFK in November. Two additional flights (SJU – JFK) will be added in December for a total of seven extra flights.
– JetBlue will also add two flights per week to San Juan San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) from Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston. From December 2008-January 2009 the airline will add a second daily flight between BOS and SJU.
– Additionally, JetBlue will offer new daily nonstop flights between Orlando’s International Airport (MCO) and San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport beginning in the fall of 2008.
– AirTran Airways began flying between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) on March 5, 2008.
– AirTran also now offers two nonstop flights between Orlando International Airport (MCO) and San Juan, Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU).
– On December 20, 2008 Air Tran Airways will launch non-stop service from Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) to San Juan Luis Munoz Marin Airport (SJU).
In addition to the increase in air access to Puerto Rico, the added incentive for US travelers is that there is no passport required for US citizens traveling between the US and Puerto Rico.