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Jet Blue to expand at Logan

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JetBlue to gain gates as it beefs up service from Logan

By Keith Reed, Globe Staff | February 1, 2005

JetBlue Airways is expected to outline plans tomorrow for a major expansion at Logan International Airport that will involve moving to another terminal where it will have more gates as it prepares for service increases.

JetBlue, which currently has just two gates in Terminal E, is considering a significant increase in its flight schedule from Logan and will move its operations into Terminal C after Delta Air Lines moves out in March, an executive familiar with the plans said.

Delta is renovating Terminal A, and its move to that terminal will free up 10 gates and a number of ticket counters.

It was not clear yesterday how many of the gates JetBlue might use.

In all, Logan has 84 gates.

A JetBlue spokesman declined to comment on the airline's plans.

Officials at the Massachusetts Port Authority, which owns Logan, also declined to comment on JetBlue's plans at the airport.

JetBlue is adding 22 new planes to its fleet this year, and its chief executive, David Neeleman, has long talked about his desire to grow in Boston. Last month, Neeleman said he would like to start operating flights between Boston and New York, challenging the hourly shuttles run by US Airways and Delta.

JetBlue's coming growth in Boston marks the latest step in its maturation from an upstart airline that gained a following with cheap fares, television screens at every seat, and an emphasis on service. The five-year-old, New York-based carrier is becoming a powerful national airline, following in the footsteps of the low-fare king, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, as it forces competitors to react to its presence in every new city to which it flies.

Dan Kasper, managing director and head of the aviation practice at LECG LLC, a Cambridge consultancy, said he expects Boston to become a so-called focus city for JetBlue, where the airline would have dozens or even hundreds of flights, but not a hub operation.

He said he expects JetBlue to add more flights to West Coast cities it already serves from Boston, and then to add flights to other cities where it has operations but doesn't currently fly to from Logan.

Those cities include Seattle; Sacramento, Calif.; Salt Lake City; Phoenix; and Syracuse, N.Y.

There is also a possibility that JetBlue would enter cities like Pittsburgh or St. Louis, where business traffic is significant but where larger airlines have decreased service in recent years, Kasper said.

American Airlines service to St. Louis has dwindled, leaving it ripe for a low-fare carrier to come in, he said. Southwest is planning to start service to Pittsburgh this spring, stepping up its battle with US Airways over Northeast passengers.

''I expect sooner or later that AirTran or JetBlue is going to pick that up," Kasper said of service to Pittsburgh.

JetBlue now flies to nine cities from Boston, including four in Florida, three in California, plus Denver and Las Vegas. That allows the airline to get the most out of its fleet of Airbus A320 jets, which can fly 3,000 miles without refueling.

But the airline will start receiving the first of 200 smaller planes that it has on order this year, planes with a 2,000-mile range that are better suited to quick flights from Boston to the Midwest or elsewhere in the Northeast.

In an interview Jan. 7, Neeleman said he has ambitious plans for Boston, including flying to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and elsewhere with the new planes.

The New York runs could also connect Boston passengers to the airline's flights to the Caribbean and other cities, he said.

From The Boston Globe

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For a minute there I missed that the first message was from 2005, not 2006.

Anyway, while I think this is great that they are making such a committment to Boston, I don't think it is really so much a factor fo potential growth as simply a cheaper way of operating, since Boston really does not fit well as a hub, and it makes more sense to have crews origniating in Boston so they don't have to pay to house them overnight.

I do hope that this is not a sign that Boston is going to become dominated by one airline. I also wish that Jet Blue would start service from some of the other airports in the region, such as Providence or Manchester.

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