JetBlue expands in Atlanta with routes to New York and Florida

JetBlue Airways on Thursday launched an expansion of its Atlanta presence, adding three routes to New York, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

New York-based JetBlue has been flying to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport since March 2017, when it began flying from Atlanta to Boston.

The expansion more than doubles the number of daily flights JetBlue operates from Atlanta. The airline now flies two flights a day to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, two flights a day to Fort Lauderdale and one flight a day to Orlando from Atlanta, using Airbus A320 jets.

It had planned to add the three additional routes in late 2017, but struggled to get the gate space it desired for the expansion.

JetBlue wanted gates on Concourse E, but has been assigned to common use gates on Concourses D and E.

That “is not really ideal,” said JetBlue’s director of route planning Andrea Lusso. “But it certainly doesn’t come in the way” of the airline’s ability to serve customers, he said.

JetBlue filed an informal complaint on the matter with the Federal Aviation Administration last year. The FAA continues to look into the matter, according to JetBlue. Lusso said the airline plans to work with the airport and the FAA on the issue, and in the meantime "we continue to do the best we can" with the split operation.

“There were some issues” last year, acknowledged Hartsfield-Jackson deputy general manager Michael Smith. “we worked successfully with them” to allow for the expansion. But the operation will still be split between Concourses D and E.

“Our understanding is their operations are running very smoothly,” said Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Reese McCranie.

It's not the first time JetBlue has encountered challenges in Atlanta. The airline flew out of Atlanta briefly in 2003, before pulling out amid stiff competition.

This time, Lusso said there has been “good momentum” with initial bookings. If the new flights prove to be successful, “we would welcome more growth in Atlanta.” But for now, the airline is focusing on the just-launched routes.

Smith said new air service “generates jobs, it stimulates tourism, and lays the foundation for new business ventures,” with estimates of $43 million of economic impact from JetBlue’s launch in 2017, with the three new routes doubling the amount of economic activity.

McCranie said airport officials are “very pleased that JetBlue has expanded service and offered additional choice for customers.”

Passengers can connect to other JetBlue flights in New York. where the airline operates more than 70 routes, and to flights on JetBlue partners including Emirates, El Al, Aer Lingus, Etihad and Qatar.

JetBlue also has a large presence in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale with flights to Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Colombia.

AJC photographer Hyosub Shin contributed to this article.