JetBlue Airways is continuing to expand service at its San Juan, Puerto Rico focus city with daily nonstops between Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport...

JetBlue Airways is continuing to expand service at its San Juan, Puerto Rico focus city with daily nonstops between Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and Jacksonville, Florida beginning on May 19, 2011.

The new route will be the only nonstop service between the Caribbean and Jacksonville, according to the airline. Tickets for JetBlue’s new Jacksonville-San Juan route will go on sale at later this month. JetBlue Airways says it will also be adding a second daily flight to Jacksonville from its Boston focus city on May 11, 2011.

On September 16 JetBlue Airways announced it would launch new service between San Juan and Tampa (also from May 2011) and says the new San Juan-Jacksonville route underscores the airline’s commitment to Puerto Rico.

From the island’s three main airports in Aguadilla, Ponce, and San Juan, JetBlue offers service to destinations on the U.S. mainland including Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, New York and Tampa, as wll as intra-Caribbean service to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. In summer 2011 JetBlue plans to operate more than 30 flights per day to and from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, with more than 20 departures per day from San Juan.

“Puerto Rico has been the cornerstone of our growth in the Caribbean,” says Dave Barger, president and CEO of JetBlue. “Jacksonville is another natural addition to our route network, another demonstration of our commitment to Puerto Rico.”

“Partnerships like this are key to the air access development of Puerto Rico, and being an island, we greatly depend on it for our commercial and tourism development,” says Luis Fortuno, governor of Puerto Rico. “This new direct service from Jacksonville also strengthens the educational and cultural ties that we maintain with the state of Florida and provides the people of Puerto Rico an additional direct connection with the continental states.”

JetBlue Airways took delivery of its first Embraer 190 on September 13, 2005. The airline, which was the launch customer for the Embraer 190 and operates the type in a 100-seat configuration, has ordered more than 100 Embraer 190s and continues to take delivery of aircraft from its orders

“Commerce with San Juan already provides an economic impact of more than $1 billion annually to Jacksonville. Both cities will greatly benefit from the increased tourism and business travel this improved route will encourage,” says John Peyton, mayor of Jacksonville. “I look forward to welcoming visitors from our ‘Sister City’, who will now have a greater opportunity to spend time in our community.”

The mayor of San Juan, Jorge Santini, who in October 2009 signed an agreement with Jacsonville’s Mayor Peyton uniting their municipalities as “Sister Cities,” says the new JetBlue route linking the two cities is the first of many economic and cultural development initiatives designed to bring the two cities closer together. Santini said JetBlue’s announcement will be a great stimulus to the tourism industry of Puerto Rico and a very positive move for the citizens of Puerto Rico and their families who live in the Jacksonville region.

“Air access for Puerto Rico is key to our economic development. We are grateful to have great airline partners like JetBlue, which has consistently grown its air seat capacity to Puerto Rico year-over-year,” says Jaime Lopez Diaz, chief development officer for the Economic Development and Commerce Department of Puerto Rico. “This new direct service is of utmost importance, specifically due to the commercial, leisure, and educational exchange that exists between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico. We greatly appreciate the support that we received from the Port of Jacksonville and industry partners in identifying opportunities to increase traffic potential.”

Since entering the Puerto Rico market in 2002, JetBlue has steadily expanded its presence. The carrier says its new flights will bolster JetBlue’s position as the largest carrier from Florida to Puerto Rico. JetBlue employs a growing staff of more than 150 employees throughout the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. With up to 20 daily departures from San Juan, the city is among JetBlue’s top 10 most-served destinations.

JetBlue’s planned schedule between Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) and San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) calls for its daily flight to depart JAX at 10:30 a.m. and arrive at SJU at 1:26 p.m. In the other direction, the flight is timed to leave SJU at 2:10 p.m. and to land at JAX at 5:36 p.m.

The carrier will operate its Jacksonville-San Juan service with Embraer 190 jets seating 100 passengers in a four-abreast configuration with no middle seats. JetBlue Airways will also use Embraer 190s to operate its second daily Jacksonville-Boston service, according to a spokeswoman.

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