Florida Community rallies to lure JetBlue Service from Daytona Beach to JFK in New York City

Jan 04, 2016, 13:40 ET from Volusia County Government

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- As the home of the Daytona Beach International Speedway, the greater Daytona Beach area is used to victory celebrations. But no celebration means more to this seaside resort area than the news that its years-long effort to recruit JetBlue Airways to serve Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) had finally succeeded.

Daily service to New York's Kennedy International Airport begins January 7.

"It was a magic moment," said Rick Karl, director of Aviation and Economic Resources for Volusia County Government, which owns the airport. "Ironically, I got the news just minutes after briefing a room full of community leaders that JetBlue had not made its decision, but that our proposals had been well-received. When I returned to my office there was a message waiting for me: JetBlue had decided to add nonstop service between Daytona Beach and New York City."

The proposals of which Karl spoke included a broad-based community effort to lure JetBlue to Daytona Beach International Airport, which also is served by Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. Community backing included a "travel bank" funded by business professionals who have committed to purchasing tickets during the airline's first years of service and startup advertising dollars provided by Volusia County Government and the area's three tourism advertising authorities.

The influence of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University also was a factor in the airline's decision to serve the Daytona Beach/DeLand/New Smyrna Beach area, which is within an hour's drive to the Orlando resort area. The Daytona Beach-based institution is the world's leading aviation and aerospace university and its graduates account for a substantial percentage of today's active commercial pilots.

The area's economic development organizations and county government lined up squarely behind the pitch to Jet Blue, with the county contributing significantly to the incentive package. The region's tourism bureaus stepped up with financial contributions to the incentive package and commitments to promote the route at every opportunity.

"Adding more service to our airport is a great thing, of course," said Tom Caradonio, executive director of the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "But to have that service provider by a carrier with the stature of JetBlue is a home run. This is great news for the community, especially our convention hotels."

His counterparts in neighboring New Smyrna Beach and DeLand agree. "JetBlue has such a loyal passenger base, its decision to add a route between Daytona Beach and JFK is an endorsement for our destination," said Debbie Meihls, executive director of the New Smyrna Beach Visitors Bureau. Renee Tallevast, executive director of the West Volusia Visitors Bureau, agreed. "JetBlue has a vast and loyal audience," she said. "For our area to be included in JetBlue's marketing plans is a powerful thing and gives us valuable exposure in the metropolitan New York City market."

Many residents of the greater Daytona Beach area moved here from New York or have a New York connection, and the new service is a perfect fit, according to Evelyn Fine, president of Daytona Beach-based Mid-Florida Marketing & Research, which for years has tracked travel trends in the area.

"This was a team effort and it was years in the making," said Jim Dinneen, Volusia County Manager. "The community rallied and support poured in from all corners of Volusia County and we never lost focus. There are a thousand decisions that affect where an airline flies, but on balance we made a compelling case.  There is widespread confidence on the part of my elected officials that JetBlue will be very successful at our airport."

The inaugural flight to DAB is January 7 Tickets are on sale at <jetblue.com>.                                                       

For more information contact:
Michael J. Jiloty, mjiloty@mac.com, 386-295-0816

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SOURCE Volusia County Government