Tuesday, June 27, 2006

JetBlue to begin flying to Houston

I had a feeling that this was going to happen sooner or later: JetBlue has announced that it will begin flying between Houston's Hobby Airport and New York's JFK Airport in September.

JetBlue appears to be a popular airline, and it's good to see that they've finally decided to being their services to Houston. More flights between New York City and Hobby Airport are also a good thing. To be sure, there is currently non-stop service between Hobby and New York via Southwest codeshare partner ATA, which flies to and from LaGuardia twice a day. However, as Ben Mutzabaugh notes, this is the most-delayed route in the entire nation and the twice-a-day frequency might not be sufficient for many business travelers.

I'm not sure how often I'll use this service, if ever, but it's good to see that more service is coming to Hobby Airport. Southwest will begin flying non-stop from Houston to Denver in July, and it is widely expected that they will offer non-stop flights from Hobby to Washington Dulles when they begin flying there later this year. It's also possible that this new service will open the door to more non-stop destinations from HOU; JetBlue also has a hub at Boston Logan, for example, which is one of the few major airports that is still not directly accessible from Hobby.

But there's already plenty of service between New York's three airports and Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport, you might note. Isn't JetBlue's service just going to further dilute the Bayou City - to - Big Apple market and force down revenues at a time when airlines are financially struggling?

I honestly don't see that happening. Bush Intercontinental and Hobby are two completely different animals that in many ways serve different markets. For starters, the two airports are on completely different sides of town. That locational difference is important: I prefer HOU for most domestic flights precisely because is much closer to my house than IAH. Furthermore, it's smaller than IAH and therefore easier to navigate from parking lot to gate. Many business travelers, in fact, prefer Hobby over Intercontinental because of its easier-to-manage size and its proximity to major employment centers such as downtown, the Texas Medical Center, or NASA. JetBlue apparently senses this, and that's probably one of the main reasons they've decided to fly to Hobby rather than Bush Intercontinental. (They'd probably also, of course, like to avoid going head-to-head with Continental on the IAH-JFK route; while HOU is dominated by Southwest, they don't fly to JFK and therefore don't compete with JetBlue in that regard.)

The bottom line: more airlines, more service and more competition can only be a good thing for Houston's air travelers. So I look forward to seeing JetBlue's funky blue tailfins in the skies over Houston this fall.

The JetBlue press release can be read here.

1 comment:

John Whiteside said...

When I lived in DC I used to fly JetBlue out to the west coast periodically. It was excellent; comfy seats, great service, good prices. I'm glad to see them coming here.