Opportunity Abounds in Regional International Service

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By Matt Cornelius
Representatives from two major air carriers, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines, together with an airport representative from Costa Rica, described the burgeoning international network opportunities for regional service in a lively Wednesday morning panel at the 2013 ACI-NA Marketing and Communications Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

To the north, trans-border traffic between Canada and United States is expanding, with new routes opening between smaller communities enabled by new aircraft. South of the United States, several airlines are expanding throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, capitalizing on emerging markets and a growing propensity to travel among the population.

JetBlue has seized on American’s withdrawal from San Juan and is creating links to its major cities in the U.S. as well as across the islands and Latin America. While not calling San Juan a hub, JetBlue is creating “enhanced connectivity” through incremental schedule changes that enable additional connection options for travelers looking to get to other islands or even South America.

Southwest Airlines is keenly eyeing this growth potential as well, looking to leverage its enhanced capacity in new Boeing 737-800 aircraft or their new Evolve seating to start serving some of these communities just outside American borders. The airline is working to enhance its reservation capabilities to enable these international routes and expects to be flying by its planes there by the end of 2014.

This was welcome news to Maria Revelo’s ears, Commercial Director for the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica, who described the transformation of Costa Rica into a valuable business and leisure destination with “so much opportunity.” One thing is clear from this morning – airlines are seeing these opportunities and starting to cash in.