(Reuters) - JetBlue Airways Corp will start six round-trip flights per weekday between New York's space-constrained LaGuardia airport and Boston in October, seeking to capture business travelers on the heavily trafficked route, the company said on Thursday.
JetBlue said it would move some of its LaGuardia-Florida flights to nearby Newark Liberty airport to free up take-off slots for the new Boston flights, now that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has made it easier for airlines to grow at Newark.
The moves take aim at United Continental Holdings Inc, which has a grip on Newark air service, and more crucially Delta Air Lines Inc and American Airlines Group Inc, which operate hourly flights from LaGuardia to Boston.
Atlanta-based Delta is the largest airline at LaGuardia, scheduling more than 40 percent of its flights including the "shuttle" service to Boston, Washington and Chicago that business travelers like for the airport's proximity to Manhattan, relative to distant Kennedy airport, and for the flights' frequency and amenities.
JetBlue said earlier this week that corporate travel demand is stagnant, although it has gained share of the lucrative market. While the likes of Delta still have long-standing corporate contracts and more LaGuardia flights, JetBlue hopes to attract business and leisure travelers who would have traveled from other airports or by train.
"The FAA’s decision to ease slot restrictions at Newark allows us to bring more low-fare, award-winning service to Newark, and clears the way for a long overdue alternative between LaGuardia and Boston for those who have been priced out of air travel and onto the roads and rails by high-fare legacy carriers," JetBlue Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes said in a news release.
JetBlue said its extra Newark flights to five airports in Florida will begin on Oct. 30, when the FAA's action takes effect. Its LaGuardia-Boston flights will start the following day, with one-way fares beginning at $49 compared to round-trip tickets on Delta and American for $281 or more.