Let’s take a moment away from politics for a minute but not completely because this piece will be praising the Broward County Commission and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors bureau. Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL) has become a major international hub in a relatively short period of time and today locally based no-frills, “ultra-low-cost” carrier Spirit Airlines competes heavily with New York based JetBlue Airways on routes in and out of Fort Lauderdale both domestically and internationally.
Miami International Airport has long been a hub for flights to Latin America and the Caribbean. Today it remains the top airport for flights to Latin America from the United States. But recent years have seen increased competition from Houston, Atlanta and Newark for these flights as well as what some would label cannibalization at the hands of Fort Lauderdale.
The issue with Miami International is two fold- one is the domination of the airport by American Airlines (in direct contrast to when I was a kid and Pan Am competed vigorously with Eastern for traffic going south) and the second is the high cost of operating at the airport. Several domestic carriers have discontinued service to Miami and since 2007 Fort Lauderdale has handled more domestic passengers than MIA and more international passengers than Orlando International.
Beginning in 2004 when Broward County was able to sell US Airways on starting a Latin American hub at FLL (the hub was abandoned after America West bought US Airways in a “reverse merger” and choose to consolidate connections to the Caribbean and Latin America via Charlotte)the airport has seen an increase in international traffic that makes it now the 14th busiest international gateway from the US.
Spirit and JetBlue are competing on many routes but a theory by aviation experts holds that Spirit attracts people who normally would not fly while JetBlue, the top rated US airline by international rating service Skytrax attracts seasoned travelers and some business travelers. For this reason, experts feel Spirit has not really cut into American’s market from south Florida to Latin America and Caribbean while JetBlue’s recent inauguration of several routes from FLL to South and Central America present a greater potential threat.
Nonetheless, it is fascinating to see an airport I grew up around which was a nice, cozy neighborhood airport turn into a bustling international hub. That having been said the airport is now one the most congested and delay prone in the entire country thanks to the ridiculous amount of traffic that has been attracted over the past decade, but with the south runway project well underway, hopefully that will change soon.
Below we compare Spirit and JetBlue’s FLL operation.
Below table indicates weekly NONSTOP flights to each destination from FLL
X – indicates airline does not serve city
o- indicates airline does serve city but not nonstop from FLL
* Spirit service to Nassau and Minneapolis/St Paul is winter seasonal
JetBlue nonstop service to Lima, Port-Au-Prince and Worcester begin in November
Also note in the “other airlines flying nonstop” column some Air Tran and Southwest flights are being flipped between the airlines which are part of the same company.
|Spirit||Jet Blue||Other airlines flying nonstop|
|Atlanta||21||X||Delta, Air Tran|
|Baltimore||14||0||Southwest, Air Tran|
|Chicago (ORD)||21||0||American, United|
|Denver||7||0||United, Frontier, Southwest|
|Los Angeles||7||14||American, Virgin America|
|Mexico City (TLC)||3||X|
|Nassau||7*||20||Bahamasair, Sky Bahamas, United Express|
|New York (JFK)||X||70||Delta, American|
|New York (LGA)||28||42||Delta|
|Orlando||14||0||Southwest, United Express|
|San Francisco||X||14||United, Virgin America|
|San Jose, Costa Rica||10||4|
|San Juan||7||42||Air Tran, Southwest (switches in Sept)|
|San Pedro Sula||4||X|
|San Salvador, BH||1||X||Air Sunshine|
|San Salvador, ES||3||X|
|Tampa/St Pete||7||0||Southwest, United Express|
|Washington (DCA)||X||21||US Airways|