JetBlue lands, officials herald start of long relationship

JetBlue Airways landed its first flight at Charleston International Airport Thursday. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
JetBlue Airways landed its first flight at Charleston International Airport Thursday. (Photo/Leslie Burden)

By Lauren Ratcliffe
Published Feb. 28, 2013

JetBlue Airways landed its first flight at Charleston International Airport under clear blue skies and was greeted by a water canon salute.

The occasion marked the beginning of direct flight service from Charleston to Boston and a low-cost addition for travelers bound for New York City.

Andy Savage, chairman of the Charleston County Aviation Authority, said his board will work to continue to attract new airlines and maintain relationships with the carriers already operating here. JetBlue is the second airline in three years to begin service to the Lowcountry.

Rob Maruster, COO of JetBlue (Photo/Leslie Burden)
Rob Maruster, COO of JetBlue (Photo/Leslie Burden)

“The Charleston County Aviation Authority will continue to make airline recruitment, retention and expansion the top priority it deserves,” Savage said.

Johnny Johnson, a captain with the airline, said the service means he can now commute to his job on his own airline. He’s been waiting 10 years for the airline to provide flights to the city, and even purchased a South Carolina vanity license plate reading “JETBLUE” after he began his career there.

Johnson and 21 other Charleston-residing pilots commute to JFK Airport for work. Before today they would have to hope either Delta Airways or US Airways had open seats.

Rob Maruster, COO of the airline, said JetBlue currently employs 30 local workers at the Charleston location and said the city has waited a long time for the airline’s arrival.

“Charleston was supposed to be one of our original 45 cities,” he said adding that Charleston is the 76th city to receive service. “I’d like to say we saved the best for last.”

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley praised the airline and compared the corporate culture of the carrier to the culture of Charleston.

“JetBlue is creative and inventive,” he said. “As is Charleston.”

Maruster agreed saying that the airline’s attitude of hospitality fits in with the expectations of generosity created in the city.

“I really believe this is one of the best cultural fits we’ve ever opened,” he said.

Riley said the airline provides an opportunity for the business communities of New York, and particularly Boston, to link with the companies here.

“We are so proud to have this premier airline,” he said. “I am confident that today begins what will be a long, beneficial relationship between JetBlue and Charleston.”

Charleston will be served on JetBlue by Embraer 190, a jet that holds 100 passengers. In April, a fourth Saturday JetBlue flight will be added connecting Boston and Charleston.

Previous coverage

JetBlue Airways plans additional Charleston flight, awaits launch
Discount airline to fly nonstop to Charleston in 2013

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