December 7, 2017

Worcester-JFK flights to start May 3

Grant Welker
JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes announced the starting date of Worcester-to-JFK flights while at a Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce event Thursday morning.

Flights between Worcester Regional Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport will start May 3, jetBlue CEO Robin Hayes announced Thursday.

The airline is starting with an introductory rate of $29. Flights may already be booked online.

The flights to and from New York are the the third destination offered by jetBlue, joining two Florida cities: Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. The JFK service was announced early this year but is awaiting completion of a new landing system meant to make service more reliable in inclement weather.

There will be only one departing flight each day out of Worcester, a 6:04 a.m. departure that lands in New York at 7 a.m. The return flight leaves New York at 10:45 p.m. and lands in Worcester at 11:50 p.m.

Hayes announced the starting date of the new flights at The Breakfast Club, an event held by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Hayes recalled the celebration put on by Worcester Regional Airport when jetBlue announced its first Worcester flights in 2013, complete with a marching band and honor guard. He called the Massachusetts Port Authority, which owns and operates the airport, a great partner.

"And I don't say that about every airport," said Hayes, who is known for speaking his mind.

In fact, much of Hayes' roughly half-hour talk included critiques of the airline industry.

"I'm going to do some bashing today, if that's OK," he said.

Only a few major airliners -- American, Delta and United -- dominate the domestic market, and Hayes said only a small number of carriers determine options between the United States and Europe.

"They can all collude legally on price and schedule," he said. "We don't think that is competitive."

Hayes had praise for Massport's largest airport, Logan International Airport in Boston. JetBlue is Logan's largest carrier, made possible by Logan offering a competitive environment, he said. Too many airports are dominated by the largest carriers making it hard for smaller competitors to gain access, he added.

Massport would likely love to see airlines jostling for space at Worcester Regional Airport, which has seen commercial flights come and go over the years. The hilltop airport, at an elevation far above much of the rest of the city, has long suffered from weather issues and somewhat difficult access from highways.

On several occasions, Worcester has had as many as six commercial carriers, but a lack of demand eventually made the routes unfeasible. A new $32-million radar and landing system, called CAT III, is designed to make the airport more attractive to carriers and passengers by making landings more safe and reliable in less-than-ideal weather.


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