Reno to link via JetBlue with New York
Reno to New York City, nonstop. It's coming in May.
After an intro of dancers stepping to Sinatra's "New York, New York," JetBlue Airways and local officials Tuesday announced daily flights linking Reno to John F. Kennedy International Airport beginning May 28 via the low-cost airline that is a perennial winner in customer satisfaction surveys.
It will be the first-ever daily nonstop service linking Reno with the nation's most populous region and the financial world's epicenter.
"This will be a game changer for us," said Marily Mora, president/CEO of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority. "This has been our No. 1 unserved market. This will be the one that really puts us over the top."
JetBlue to start nonstop Reno-JFK International service in May Bill O'Driscoll/RGJ
Added Andy Wirth, a member of the airport authority board, "Reno-Tahoe International can now be a key cylinder in the economic engine of this area."
John Checketts, JetBlue director of Route Planning who attended the Tuesday announcement in Reno, said, "Reno has always been a market that's intriguing to us with gaming, skiing, summer destinations. This will be a game-changer for income from New York as the population living here."
Checketts also lauded the community effort to bring JetBlue to Reno, saying, "Reno is a destination with strong community support. That really stuck out. The collaborative effort really pushed them over the finish line."
More than a decade in the making, the deal to bring JetBlue to Reno was a broad effort by the region's business interests, Mora and others said, and will touch all facets of the region's economy, from tourism to economic development to business travel.
"This is big stuff. From meetings to conventions, Tesla, skiing. Every segment we pursue needs this service," said Chris Baum, CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority.
"We're already seeing a dramatic increase in business travel," he said. "As companies look at our part of the world for expansion, corporate business travelers need direct access. Having the biggest market in North America is gravy."
Others said the nonstop flights will add credibility to the greater Northern Nevada business market that has already gained worldwide attention with the $5 billion battery gigafactory being built by Tesla Motors east of Reno.
"It's an incredibly important connection for our prospects, and existing industries have been asking for this for years," said Mike Kazmierski, CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. "It enables this region to compete more for effectively for regional headquarters and higher paying executive positions."
For the Reno-Tahoe ski market, the JetBlue connection is "phenomenal," said Wirth, president/CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, parent company of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski areas. "The most lucrative ski market in the U.S. is New York."
Checketts agreed, saying, "If I'm a New Yorker wanting a ski trip to Lake Tahoe, it's a deal breaker if you have to stop a few times to get here."
Starting May 28, JetBlue will employ a twin-engine Airbus A320 jetliner to depart JFK at 7:40 p.m., arriving in Reno at 11:07 p.m., and then departing for the return to New York at 11:59 p.m. Reno time and arriving in New York at 8:09 a.m.
JetBlue was launched in 1998 as a low-cost alternative carrier and has grown to reach more than 80 destinations in 25 states as well as the Caribbean and Latin America.
Checketts touted JetBlue's reputation for service, citing its ranking for the ninth straight year in 2014 as No. 1 in overall airline satisfaction index scores among low-cost carriers J.D. Power 2014 North America Airline Satisfaction Study.
Ranked second in the survey was Southwest Airlines, Reno-Tahoe's largest carrier, which offers flights to the East Coast with at least one stop in between.
Checketts also touted JetBlue's fares, saying typical roundtrip coast-to-coast costs at present can top $900. He said he envisions JetBlue fares to be as low as the $450 range.
As a promotional effort, JetBlue is offering $89 one-way fares for flights between May 28 and June 17, to be purchased by Jan. 16.
Checketts said that unlike Southwest's practice of open seating, JetBlue offers reserved seating, and customers booking flights now will have their first bag free of charge. JetBlue has announced a new fare structure for baggage but no details have yet been detailed.
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Headquarters: Long Island City, N.Y.
Destinations (as of Dec. 31, 2013): 82 in 25 states, Caribbean, Latin America
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