JetBlue: Merger With Spirit Would Mean 200 Daily Flights From Orlando

Credit: Peter Griffin/Alamy Stock Photo

JetBlue Airways unveiled two new routes connecting Orlando (MCO) to the Dominican Republic and says it expects a combined JetBlue-Spirit Airlines to operate 200 flights daily from MCO by 2027.

With the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) suing to block JetBlue’s planned acquisition of Spirit on antitrust grounds, the New York Kennedy (JFK)-based airline is making the case for the combination’s benefits to passengers. One such benefit would be a carrier with a growing and significant presence at MCO, JetBlue says, asserting in a statement that the merger will “unlock long-term growth opportunities” that will not otherwise be possible.

The carrier believes a combined JetBlue-Spirit would offer about 20 routes from MCO not operated today by either airline.

The two new routes to the Dominican Republic, both to be operated daily, will commence in November 2023. JetBlue will fly from MCO to both Punta Cana (PUJ) and Santiago (STI). The MCO-STI route will be exclusive to JetBlue.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes says in a statement that the airline has agreed to post-merger “growth commitments” with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. “This growth will establish JetBlue as Orlando’s national low-fare carrier of choice, ensuring customers don’t have to choose between low fares and a great experience,” Hayes said.

The airline already has 4,000 employees based in Orlando, where it trains pilots and flight attendants. 

JetBlue says a Spirit merger will offer passengers “more routes and increasing options in and out of central Florida,” adding: “This includes introducing new nonstop service to a number of destinations that would not be viable today. In total, JetBlue would offer flights to approximately 20 markets that are not served by either JetBlue or Spirit from Orlando today and would increase flight frequencies on approximately 25 additional routes.” 

The new Dominican Republic “routes help Orlando International deliver connectivity and strengthen our position as a major economic generator in the region,” MCO CEO Kevin Thibault says.

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.