Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

JetBlue expanding in Atlanta, but issue with gate space remains

JetBlue Airways this week announced plans for three new routes from Atlanta next year, to go along with its current service to Boston.

But the New York carrier says it has had problems getting the gate space it wants at Hartsfield-Jackson International, accusing the airport of “discriminatory” practices that have affected its flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it is investigating an informal complaint filed by JetBlue over the assignment of gates at the Atlanta airport.

JetBlue contended earlier this year that lease terms at the world’s busiest airport hinder competition and favor Delta and other airlines already at Hartsfield-Jackson.

For its flights to Boston, JetBlue wanted gates on Concourse E, a newer international concourse with more space than the domestic concourses, and said it was promised that space.

Instead, it was assigned to domestic Concourse D for most of its Atlanta-Boston flights, with one flight out of Concourse E.

The airline had planned to add more flights later this year, but this week said it will launch the three new routes -- to New York JFK, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale -- in March 2018.

JetBlue contended that the city of Atlanta “has taken actions in a manner that is discriminatory against JetBlue’s entrance to ATL,” in violation of requirements that airports that receive federal grants do not favor one airline over another.

Hartsfield-Jackson said it will announce new gate assignments early next year.

“There’s no real gate space issue,” Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Reese McCranie said. “We will have gates for all of their new flights.”

But in a June letter to the FAA, JetBlue said the airport had told it that adding more flights “would be challenging -- and that JetBlue could be forced to operate 12 flights from three different concourses and spaces -- a completely unacceptable and discriminatory outcome.”

McCranie said the airport is working with the FAA on the complaint.

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