JetBlue high on Buffalo despite cuts

September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 2, 2010 at 7:39 AM EDT

By James Fink, Business First of Buffalo


JetBlue high on Buffalo despite cuts

September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 2, 2010 at 7:39 AM EDT

A drop in three daily flights has seen JetBlue's passenger count at Buffalo Niagara International Airport fall by 20 percent.

There isn't a cloud hovering over the local operation of the low-cost air carrier, however.

"Schedules are always in a state of flux," said Alison Croyle, JetBlue spokesperson. "Sometimes it's seasonal; sometimes it is based on demand."

JetBlue, in early June, dropped one daily flight between Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Boston, Fort Lauderdale and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. It currently offers 20 flights per week between Buffalo and Boston's Logan International Airport, along with five weekly flights to Fort Lauderdale and 52 weekly flights to JFK.

"Buffalo remains an important destination in our network," Croyle said. "It was one of the first cities we flew to."

JetBlue is the airport's fourth-busiest carrier, according to monthly statistics compiled by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, operator of the Cheektowaga airport. In May, it handled 33,365 outbound passengers - 20.3 percent less than May 2009, when it handled 41,874 passengers.

NFTA officials attributed the decrease - the largest among seven major carriers servicing the local airport - to JetBlue dropping a handful of flights from its schedule.

"We did scale back a bit," Croyle said. "But at the same time, we are now offering nonstop flights to Boston and Fort Lauderdale, which we haven't in the past."

NFTA officials said they are not concerned.

"Their load factors are excellent," said Lawrence Meckler, NFTA executive director. "I'm sure as time goes on they will be adding more flights. I know Buffalo is a big part of JetBlue's future."

In May, it was the fourth-busiest carrier and handled 12 percent of the flights leaving the Buffalo airport. One year ago, JetBlue accounted for 14 percent of outbound flights.

Southwest Airlines remains the airport's busiest carrier, handling 64,153 outbound passengers in May. That was a 3.85 percent increase from May 2009.

USAirways was the second-busiest air carrier with 40,894 outbound passengers, a 3.36 percent increase from May 2009, followed by Delta/Northwest, which handled 36,372 passengers. That was a 9.6 percent decrease from last May.

For the month of May, the airport handled 230,052 outbound passengers, down 2.24 percent from last year.