By Michael Munz, Dalton Agency, Partner, EVP and Director of Public Relations +
On May 19th, Jacksonville took a positive aviation related step with the inaugural non-stop JetBlue flight between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The celebration was in full swing as members of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority Board, their executives, JetBlue executives and a variety of community and business leaders from Jacksonville boarded the Embraer 190. This new daily nonstop air passenger service from Jacksonville to San Juan has the potential to lead to larger and more lucrative offerings for both the airport and travelers as recently reported in the local media. A trip leader, Steve Hastings, President of Sea Star Line, LLC, an ocean transportation company providing transportation services from North America to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands expressed his view of this new travel option.
“Sea Star is eager to see the relationship between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico grow in a positive and meaningful manner,” Hastings said. “Not only will this be a boost for tourism, family and cultural ties, but for business as well. Last year, the trade volume between these sister cities, San Juan and Jacksonville, hit the one-billion-dollar mark. I anticipate the new route will help to increase these numbers.”
In October of 2009, the mayor of San Juan, Jorge Santini, and the mayor of Jacksonville, John Peyton, signed an agreement uniting their municipalities as “Sister Cities.” The new JetBlue route is seen as the first of many economic and cultural development opportunities that will bring the two cities closer together.
“This day marks a new day that 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,” Hastings said as he boarded the flight.
Jacksonville Aviation Authority board member Ron Weaver said in a press release that he believes such a service “opens up the whole Caribbean” and he expressed optimism that success with the service will entice JetBlue to further expand to Jacksonville.
“It’s really exciting,” said Weaver.
The inaugural flight was the culmination of several years of effort by the Aviation Authority and city and business representatives. I was pleased to be on the first flight, and look forward to growing not only our business opportunities in Puerto Rico, but to also welcoming other direct routes to other major cities in the coming years.
For more info on San Juan, click here.