DAYTONA BEACH — From Broadway to the Speedway, JetBlue’s inaugural flight to Daytona Beach pulled today into gate 6, after being greeted with a traditional water cannon salute at 11:28 local. As passengers deplaned, they were able to strut down the blue carpet as Volusia Country personnel, Daytona Beach Airport staff, and many local business representatives cheered. But for some passengers, the cherry on top to their arrival was the “JetBlue colored skies and 70 degree weather.”
Although it may be seen as just another landing at Daytona Beach Airport, it signifies a win for Volusia County and the Daytona Beach area. County officials worked to recruit JetBlue to add Daytona Beach to its growing route network for several years through dozens of face-to-face meetings with the airline, phone calls, and working extensively on an incentive package to recruit the New York-based carrier.
The Incentive Package
JetBlue’s incentive package is worth about $2.3 million. About $250,000 of this package is derived from pledges by members of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce to purchase this value equivalent in JetBlue tickets over the course of a year. Besides, the airline was also given $400,000 to fund an advertising campaign to target its New York audience, and also it is said that the airline received discounted landing fees for some period of time as well as a few other incentives that would help to make up the rest of the $2.3 million package.
In February 2015, JetBlue announced that it would commence daily flights with an Airbus A320 between New York JFK and Daytona Beach, and it was a sigh of relief. “JetBlue’s arrival in Dayton Beach is part of the overall renaissance that the greater Daytona Beach area and Volusia County is experiencing,” said Rick Carl, airport director, Daytona Beach International Airport. “Having the most convenient airport in the east central Florida region, Daytona Beach International Airport is well-suited for the partnership with JetBlue.”
The Bigger Picture
With the addition of Daytona Beach, JetBlue now serves eight Florida destinations and offers more flights between the Empire State and the Sunshine State than any other airline with up to 83 daily non-stops.
“We launched our airline with its inaugural flight between New York’s JFK and Florida almost 16 years ago, and we are so pleased that all these years later we continue to offer even more new routes between these two popular regions,” said Scott Laurence, senior vice president of network planning at JetBlue, and a graduate of Daytona Beach’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “Daytona Beach features so many exciting and sunny attractions that we knew it was time to offer travelers new flights and better value to this top destination.”
Other Daytona Beach-New York City Attempts
Although this will be Daytona’s only non-stop service to New York City, it will not be the first time that an airline attempted to serve the market. Continental Airlines offered daily non-stop flights between Daytona Beach and Newark for close to 18 years, but the airline cut the flights when the 2008 recession occurred. AirTran also launched daily service to New York in March 2008, but eventually the route was put to an end.
When it was first known that the airport and JetBlue started negotiations, Delta Air Lines attempted to fly a Saturday-only seasonal flight between New York LaGuardia and Daytona Beach with an Embraer E170/175. Unfortunately, it was difficult to make the flights work, and the service was subsequently cancelled.
Will JetBlue Be a Success?
The first few months should go well for JetBlue, given the considerable college student traffic, NASCAR races, Biker Week, and Spring Break, but beyond that season, some are skeptical of how well JetBlue will do it in Daytona Beach with daily 150-seat A320 service. Despite the skepticism, the flight times have been well-timed for connections to various cities on both coasts as well as onward connections through JetBlue’s more than 40 airline code-share partners.
JFK – DAB Flight B6393 DAB – JFK Flight B6500
10:29 a.m. – 1:13 p.m. 2:00 p.m. – 4:21 p.m.
Rick Carl, the Airport Director of Daytona Beach International Airport, explained that JetBlue has “[Daytona’s] pledge that we will be good business partners to make sure [JetBlue] is successful as we want the relationship to grow so we can see multiple JetBlue flights on the flight monitors.”
Scott Laurence, senior vice president of network planning at JetBlue, commented that he “looks forwarding to adding flights to Boston and maybe additional New York flights based on a ton of local support.”
As always, time will tell as long as passenger numbers how successful JetBlue is in Daytona Beach, but one thing is for sure: Daytona Beach is ecstatic to have JetBlue service.