Tourism and airport officials say that new JetBlue flights between Quito and Fort Lauderdale could increase travel between Ecuador and Florida by as much as 40%. The low-cost U.S. carrier begins service tomorrow.
According to Juan Carlos Garcia, a Quito travel agency owner, JetBlue tickets will cost about 30% less than those offered by American, Lan and United, airlines that fly between Ecuador and Miami. “The low-cost carriers make a big market difference wherever they fly,” he says. “They put pressure on conventional airlines to offer the best fares, which is good for travelers.”
Garcia said that Quito-to Fort Luaderdale JetBlue ticket prices are averaging $350 while those offered by Lan and American for the Quito-Miami route average $575. Fort Lauderdale is 35 miles north of Miami.
Quito airport general manager Andrew O’Brian says that budget airlines have an immediate impact on passenger traffic, pointing to VivaColombia flights that began early last year. “Before Viva, a round-trip to Bogota was about $400 and they entered the market at $204,” he said. “The number of passengers on the route has increased by more than 50%. This has a major impact on touirsm.”
O’Brian says he expects JetBlue to add about 45,000 passenger trips a year between Florida and Quito to the current 180,000. “They will provide a big boost which should also stimulate increased demand for the other carriers,” he said.
O’Brian said that JetBlue’s impact will be felt beyond its direct services. “It will bring tens-of-millions of dollars of related services to the market.”