New flights could create a "JetBlue Effect" in Jacksonville, driving prices down
Dec 19, 2014
Jensen Werley, Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal

With JetBlue's start of direct flights from Jacksonville International Airport to Washington D.C. — and flights from Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale announced earlier this year — some industry sources believe there is room for the "JetBlue Effect" to take place in Jacksonville.

"The JetBlue Effect" is the phenomenon that takes place in some airports when JetBlue deems a city a market with potential. JetBlue adds flights, and the prices plummet.

Its effect can be seen clearly in a market like Savannah. When JetBlue added flights to Boston and New York from Savannah, fare prices dropped.

Jacksonville has the same potential, said Scott Laurence, Senior Vice President of Airline Planning at JetBlue.

He said when JetBlue entered the Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale market to compete with Silver Airways, the market reacted by prices dropping. That same reaction is being seen for Jacksonville to Washington D.C.

"We're stimulating traffic," he said. "We've seen numbers grow significantly. We offer excellent service at the lowest possible fare and that's what we're seeing in Jacksonville when we came in to Washington."

Howard Mann, vice president of policy and market analysis for Intervistas, an airline consulting firm (which does work with JetBlue), said the phrase is a riff on the "Southwest Effect" — a similar phenomenon when fares drops when Southwest Airlines enters the market. USA Today has said that JetBlue actually has a stronger effect on reducing fares than Southwest.

Mann said that the effect can only benefit consumers and the community.

"It's only positive," he said. "It presents a new competitor in marketplace. [Jacksonville is] a growing market."

He said the new JetBlue routes provide a foundation for Jacksonville to grow as a target for airlines.

"It's only good news for the evolution of Jacksonville as a market," he said. "There's a mix of business travel… leisure travelers. What you want is as many carriers with different business models."

Laurence confided that he liked the idea of the "JetBlue Effect," and said that his company tries to disrupt the status quo of airport service.

"We challenge incoming carriers," he said. "Especially on routes with a monopoly. We've done that in Jacksonville."

Laurence said that Jacksonville has already proven to be a successful market in the past — especially when it added flights to New York in 2006. It also saw the same positive effect when it added flights to Boston, to which it now serves twice a day.

"There are a lot of great aspects in Jacksonville," Laurence said. "There are draws to Jacksonville. It does a really great job of picking up business traffic."

Laurence said there is potential to add more Jacksonville flights depending on how its current expansion goes — and that possibly adding West Coast flights to cities like Las Vegas or Long Beach, California could be on the table in the future.