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JetBlue to offer service between Pittsburgh, Fort Lauderdale

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Monday, April 14, 2014, 9:48 a.m.
 

Amid a push from county government officials for more flights, JetBlue Airways announced on Monday it will add nonstop service between Pittsburgh International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in the fall.

JetBlue said customers will help decide how long the flights, which will begin Oct. 29, will last.

The announcement occurs about a year since the airline discontinued service from Pittsburgh to New York JFK because the route was unprofitable.

“We are always evaluating multiple destinations and considering new ones,” said JetBlue spokesman Loren Duran. “(The JFK to Pittsburgh route) is a prime example of how service can be terminated if a community does not support it. Demand is the deciding factor.

“Pittsburgh customers have expressed strong interest and intent to support a (Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale) route. The community will need to support this route in order to show its viability and keep it on our schedule.”

Southwest is the only other airline with a direct flight to Fort Lauderdale from Pittsburgh. The JetBlue flight will depart Pittsburgh at 7:15 a.m. and arrive at 10 a.m., and depart Fort Lauderdale at 6:55 p.m. and arrive at 9:31 p.m.

To promote bookings, the Allegheny County Airport Authority will offer discounted parking to coincide with the flight's start. Customers who fly nonstop from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale on JetBlue or Southwest will qualify, airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said. Officials are working out details of the parking promotion.

JetBlue flies four daily flights to Boston, the only other city it serves directly from Pittsburgh. Air fares are on sale for as low $79 one way for travel between Oct. 29 and Dec. 17 but must be purchased by Tuesday to qualify for the sale.

Pushing for flights is a priority for County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the airport authority's board. The board ousted President Brad Penrod last month, and the airport's longtime air service development director, Lucinda Harshman, will retire next month.

JetBlue's announcement is the first flight since Southwest began flying to Nashville in September. Pittsburgh averages 150 daily flights to 36 destinations, down from more than 600 flights to 110 destinations in the early 2000s when US Airways operated a hub there.

Bobby Kerlik is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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