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April 17, 2020

Feds deny JetBlue's request to suspend Worcester airport service

Photo | Grant Welker A JetBlue airplane on the Worcester Regional Airport tarmac.

The U.S. Department of Transportation denied JetBlue's request to suspend service at Worcester Regional Airport, according to a Thursday filing, citing accommodations already made to meet industry economic concerns and community needs.

"The Department is authorized to require air carriers receiving financial assistance under... the CARES Act to maintain scheduled air transportation services as the Secretary deems necessary... JetBlue has not persuaded the Department that we must strike a different balance with respect to the remaining covered points in JetBlue's request," the DOT said in the filing.

JetBlue was flying regular nonstop flights from Worcester to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and John F. Kennedy International Airport. JetBlue stopped flights to the two Florida cities, and the flights to JFK are booked to 15% capacity, according to its filing earlier this month.

JetBlue's request, filed in early April, pointed to significant financial concerns in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which air travel has all but halted. While the airline is currently bringing in $1 million a day, during April 2019 the company was accruing $22 million a day, JetBlue said in its filing.

The airline also pointed to Boston as a viable nearby airport option, should they have suspended service in Worcester.

While the DOT rejected JetBlue's request to temporarily shutter service in Worcester, as well as nine other airports, the department did approve a temporary service closure at two Puerto Rico airports. 

Worcester airport is also served by American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

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