Into the blue: JetBlue airline considering adding service to Naples

Flights out of Southwest Florida International Airport. Michel Fortier/Staff

Photo by MICHEL FORTIER // Buy this photo

Flights out of Southwest Florida International Airport. Michel Fortier/Staff

A commercial airline is looking for a new place to land — and Naples could be the place.

JetBlue, a New York-based airline that serves 71 cities with more than 750 daily flights, is considering expanding service to the Naples Municipal Airport, the airport announced Friday.

"Naples is an extremely popular destination for New Yorkers and our customers routinely tell us that they would like JetBlue to fly to (the Naples Municipal Airport)," Scott Laurence, vice president of network, planning and partnerships with JetBlue, wrote in a June 19 letter to Airport Executive Director Ted Soliday.

Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Reagen said commercial service would ease challenges on travelers traveling to Naples. The airline would also be good for the economy and for local businesses, he said.

"The Chamber will not only be watching, we will be cheerleading," he said. "We want to help in any way we can."

But not everyone sees it that way. Old Naples resident Alan Parker said the idea that JetBlue would come to Naples is "ridiculous."

"The service is not needed here," he said. "More traffic is not wanted here at the Naples Airport. Let it grow organically."

The deal isn't done yet. One of the stumbling blocks is the airport's current regulations that limit the maximum takeoff weight of aircraft serving the airport. The current limit, according to Soliday, is 75,000 pounds max gross weight supported by dual gear.

In his letter, Laurence wrote the limits are usually a mechanism for noise abatement. While JetBlue's airplanes exceed that weight, he said their noise footprint is similar to or lower than smaller aircraft currently using the airport.

The airline could receive a weight limit waiver, Soliday said, but the airport's bylaws require meetings with the city council and the public followed by a supermajority vote of the Airport Board to change that weight limit in any manner.

The airport had discussions with JetBlue more than a year ago about possible commercial service in Naples, Soliday said, but at that time JetBlue was concerned about runway distance.

Last year, the Airport Authority paved the safety areas at both ends of the airport's primary runway in part to attract commercial service.

Naples Mayor John Sorey, who opposed the runway extension, said he thought another community survey should be done to see how much interest there is in commercial service at the Naples airport.

"I want to know what the community feels about this," he said. "The maximum impact will be on the Naples residents."

The Transportation Security Administration would also have to be involved, Soliday said, bringing screeners and baggage handlers to the airport. They left after the loss of Yellow Air Taxi, an commercial airline operated by Friendship Airways. It stopped scheduled service to Key West in December 2008.

Parker questioned whether taxpayers would be on the hook for incentives to get JetBlue's business in Naples.

"What goodies are they going to offer? Who pays for that?" he asked. "The people who pay for that are the city of Naples and its citizens."

Soliday said he doesn't anticipate the airline to be in service in Naples before the end of the year, even if talks are smooth.

"We don't want to start commercial service and lose it again," he said.

The Naples Airport Authority members are expected to discuss JetBlue's overture at their Aug. 16 meeting.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 60

Sick writes:

Cheap flights will do well in Naples with the new immigration laws coming.

KatoMan writes:

. . this ‘public’ city council meeting should be VERY interesting with a whole bunch of VERY emotional speakers . . . should make for some good TV . . . and Sorey wanting a survey is nothing more than a stalling tactic . . . this is a market-driven matter . . . if there’s no customers . . . Jet Blue will just go away.

. . . from what I can see . . . this proposal is pretty much DOA!

Trunk_Monkey writes:

I hope more flights start coming into Naples and Punta Gorda to circumvent the Fort Myers airport’s crazy prices especially on parking.

Sunnyand82 writes:

Well it won't take long for the City Council to bend over and waive the 75K weight restriction for the NAA - what a bunch of BS! Cramming more airplanes into a tiny airport causes more noise and air pollution. Relocate the airport to an area where it can be expanded safely. Maybe a protest along Airport road would get the attention of the Council.

greathornedlizard writes:

Jet Blue would be wonderful if only because what we have now is a public airport that services only private aviators..at public expense.

Let us either make this a real airport that services the taxpaying public and not just the tax dodging elites, or let us move this airport out to the boondocks.

almasonlybar writes:

Alan Parker notwithstanding, there simply won't be enough business to justify it in the end.

peoplerjerks writes:

in response to greathornedlizard:

Jet Blue would be wonderful if only because what we have now is a public airport that services only private aviators..at public expense.

Let us either make this a real airport that services the taxpaying public and not just the tax dodging elites, or let us move this airport out to the boondocks.

Right off their website:

The Authority has no taxing powers with which to raise revenues. All funds used for its operation, maintenance and improvements come from activities on the airport or from grants awarded by federal and state agencies. Since the Authority's formation, the Naples Municipal Airport has operated in the "black", making it a model for efficient government fiscal management and accountability.

Where's the part about "at public expense"???

WYSIWYG writes:

in response to peoplerjerks:

Right off their website:

The Authority has no taxing powers with which to raise revenues. All funds used for its operation, maintenance and improvements come from activities on the airport or from grants awarded by federal and state agencies. Since the Authority's formation, the Naples Municipal Airport has operated in the "black", making it a model for efficient government fiscal management and accountability.

Where's the part about "at public expense"???

"grants awarded by federal and state agencies" ROFL.

naples759 writes:

it's probably already a done deal...

it's just being tossed around so the general public will think that the city is out for their best interest.

since when is any big business doing something because it's what the people want?//

the first and bottom line is making money...

sure a lot of new yorkers come here but they mainly stay on the east coast.

seems that more midwesterners come here in addition to the new englanders.

but not all new yorkers...

volochine writes:

Of course, Jet Blue would say it is "looking" at the viability of service to Naples. Always answer a question in the affirmative.

But,this great airline has no intention of catering to such a small segment of the market. There is a major international airport 20 miles away with huge runways, limo service, TSA, off-site parking, on-site parking, taxi's, rental cars, hotel vans, etc.

Fort Myers is the 57th largest SMSA area of America. Naples is the 78th. Yet some retirees want to think we can support 2 airports, because New York had 3.

Think it through and enjoy the limo ride.

angrytxpyr writes:

The noise complainers are lining up for this one and the real story is. What has the City done to ensure appropriate staffing at the Airport Fire & Rescue station???

NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING at F---ING all!!!

Its got the same exact staffing level that it has had for the last 25 years even though the tenant population, airplane size and hanger space has literally blown through the roof.

Hey City of Naples Fire Department Director what have you done to address the severely shorthanded staffing at what amounts to a significant disaster waiting to happen???

NOTHING!!!

Hey Mac, Steve & Ernie please tell us just how a shiny new Fire boat at any cost will ensure the TWO individuals at Fire Station #3 will survive or be effective at any significant incident at the Naples Airport?

Would that shiny new station you want built across the street from the newly renovated one help out the TWO individuals when the poop hits the whirly gig???

So Ms. McEnerny, I just have to wonder about where the priorities of your leadership of that Fire Department are when you go to council and beg for a fancy Fire Boat you don't really need, claim a Fire Station is unsafe and should be torn down and replaced when all you really had to do is get the bathrooms redone during the recent renovation and make sure you had the correct HVAC system was finally installed in that building to prevent the recurring mold problems.

The guys and one girl that work out at that Fire Station are true professionals and can take care of business when the smelly stuff starts flying but they do have limits as just what they can do. It would not take much to have a huge and preventable loss of life disaster at the Naples Airport and Steve McEnerny apparently thinks TWO individuals can handle it at least for the first 6-7 minutes or so that it would take for second due to arrive. Incidentally that is about the amount of time it takes for a near disaster to escalate into a sheer disaster.

Stop trying to blow your hot air & broken promises up the City Councils skirts Ms. McEnerny and make darn sure the members have what they really need to do their jobs effectively before you start asking for crap that makes your EGO swell.

Oh BUT BUT Steve asked for more people and better staffing and new fire trucks and better communications and got a $105,000 plus benefits "apple polisher" in place. YUP he sure did but not a single one of those things will make a darn bit of difference if an even average size passenger jet from "Jet Blue" has a problem at the Naples Airport. Can't divert them all to South West International Airport ya know!!!

HAP writes:

Please, do not bring the rude New Yorker's we have enough angry snowbirds.

410 writes:

You think the prices are high at Ft. Myers? Wait till you see what they will have to charge to fly into Naples. They may fly in here for a bit, but it will be a money loser for them and they will quickly fold it.
Why do we need jet service to NYC when we have Ft. Myers right up the road?

Beachglow writes:

If Delta Airlines couldn't make it with paid seats, Jet Blue won't either. No need to spend money in this terrible economy to find out what we already know. Give taxpayers a break!

sunburnt writes:

And there it is, get ready for the 737's and if you go back to when they talked about expanding the airport you will see my comments saying that this was going to happen.

Nakose_Haco writes:

The problem with Naples=full of people "not in my backyard."

billnaples writes:

The noise arguement is laughable. How many flights do you think would be made on a daily (maybe) basis? I would bet two in two out max. Most of the complainers bought and built well after the airport was there. Didn't expect some noise? Shame on you. And yes the overwhelming influence should all the riteria be met to start service will be (and should be for Jet Blue or any other airline) can they make a profit. If the answer is no then they will either go away or prehaps never come.

voltihs writes:

The only thing in Naples with a higher turnover rate than restaurants is airlines trying to make a go of it.

Can't wait for the "noise crazies" to take to the streets.

Beachglow writes:

Most New Yorkers come to Naples and complain about the sleepy nature of the town. They seem to not be able to relax and get used to a town that is very, very laid back. So it would truly make sense not to entice an airline to a failed proposition.

Most people from New York prefer the fast pace of the East Coast because it's more attuned to their life-styles. So, as I said before, it's really a moot point. Why bother with studies and all the things we've heard over and over and over for decades. Just leave well-enough and proven alone and save us the hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

unfatcat writes:

I appose this idea because..

1) Is this airline going to create more customers than SW Florida would've had without it? No. People coming to the area booked their flight on whatever airlines service SW Florida. They were coming anyway.

2) TSA--No. No more federal govt. jobs.

3) How does Naples profit from this? No additional customers (they were coming to Naples anyway), new govt. workers (bad economic decision), and higher taxes on a struggling economy.

If Naples is going to contribute taxes to a job-creating business; it should be in manufacturing --real jobs. "Produce more than you consume"--God's advice to profit in the Bible.

Captian_Cataracts writes:

Funny that the old deaf geezers would complain about noise.

Your_Name_Here writes:

I live pretty close to the airport. Where do I go to show my support for this? Having direct JetBlue flights to NYC would be a huge boon to Naples. Probably a few flights a week--maybe three takeoffs, three landings, for a total amount of noise of maybe 12 minutes out of the over 10,000 minutes in a week. And, as one commenter pointed out, it would make the Naples Airport useful for the people who are actually paying for it rather than its current status: a publicly-funded airport servicing private jets.

Here4Now writes:

Oh boy!! More loud, obnoxious New Yorkers! I can hardly wait.

ronl1212 writes:

How convenient! Jet Blue wasn't interested in the past because runways were too short. The airport pushed through runway extentions under the guise of "less noise"??? and safety... now Jet Blue and the Chamber of Commerce are excited. How do you spell HYPROCRISY?... A-I-R-P-O-R-T B-O-A-R-D et al!

Sunnyand82 writes:

The airport facility is not designed for 90+ passenegers arriving or departing - that means the entire facility will need to be rebuilt - and guess who will be stuck with the bill? Naples taxpayers. And then when JetBlue pulls out - a white elephant will remain. Luckily the zoo is close by.

Sunnyand82 writes:

in response to Your_Name_Here:

I live pretty close to the airport. Where do I go to show my support for this? Having direct JetBlue flights to NYC would be a huge boon to Naples. Probably a few flights a week--maybe three takeoffs, three landings, for a total amount of noise of maybe 12 minutes out of the over 10,000 minutes in a week. And, as one commenter pointed out, it would make the Naples Airport useful for the people who are actually paying for it rather than its current status: a publicly-funded airport servicing private jets.

Your estimate of use is interesting -- but how much $$ will be spent to rebuild the airport to bring it up to code to accommodate the several weekly Jetblue flights? This will be paid with our tax $ at a time in our economy when we can't afford it. We're already missing out on tax dollars of 600+ acres in downtown Naples.

BigFan writes:

Bring all kinds of flights and planes. Would be great to have more options. The noise and inconvenience would be greatly outweighed by the benefit.

Colorado (Inactive) writes:

in response to Sick:

Cheap flights will do well in Naples with the new immigration laws coming.

Sounds like racism to me. What do you think about black people voting?

chafon writes:

There are pro and cons of bringing an airline to Naples. Those that travel for bussiness or pleasure, and those that benefit from the job opportunities it creates will see it as positive. The few bothered from the "noise" it brings will not welcome it. I live in North Naples and I can hear the private jets leaving as if they were next door. The new commercial aircraft create less noise then those private jets. In these scarce times for job, any new biz should be welcome to Naples. We need jobs and biz in our area. And for the fool talking about cheap airlines for inmigrants, inmigrants can't afford to fly in "cheap airlines", inmigrants travel by bus or carpool on pickups and vans. Inmigrants will be doing the dirty jobs that you refuse to do.

TheyPavedParadise2 writes:

This is already a done deal. The public "vetting" will be next. Companies like this make plans in board meetings and have already done the market research. They have already had the meetings with your local elected officials. It doesn't all happen overnight. So sit back while your city council and the county commissioners who have pushed hard to be in the meetings decide this for you. Read the articles about perchlorate, and ingredient in jet fuel being found in breast milk and tissue.

Breathe deep the gathering gloom
Watch lights fade from every room
Bedsitter people look back and lament
Another day's useless energy spent

Impassioned lovers wrestle as one
Lonely man cries for love and has none
New mother picks up and suckles her son
Senior citizens wish they were young

Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colors from our sight
Red is grey and yellow white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion?

HOMEBOY2 writes:

Great News... Naples needs an airline.. I have seen so many come and go... Continental, Delta, USAir, American, PBA/Naples Airlines, Cape Air, Piedmont, We need to support our airport and make sure this community is successful.. and if we are going to grow the community and economy we need a great airport

MisterK writes:

It would give our taxi drivers some business. Overall, it seems inefficient. The TSA requirements for a few flights a week?

estateslady11 writes:

American always had full planes, but they still could not make money on the Naples Leg.
Naples is just not a viable airport.
I loved it when we could hop on American in Naples and hit Miami without the long drive and head overseas, hassle free.
Now since 9-11 nothing is hassle free, after my last trip to the West Coast, I'm never flying again. It was a horrid experience both ways. And to top that off, items were stolen out of our bags. If I can't get there by car, I'm not going.

wentfishn writes:

in response to peoplerjerks:

Right off their website:

The Authority has no taxing powers with which to raise revenues. All funds used for its operation, maintenance and improvements come from activities on the airport or from grants awarded by federal and state agencies. Since the Authority's formation, the Naples Municipal Airport has operated in the "black", making it a model for efficient government fiscal management and accountability.

Where's the part about "at public expense"???

Do they pay property taxes?

wentfishn writes:

in response to Here4Now:

Oh boy!! More loud, obnoxious New Yorkers! I can hardly wait.

You dont have to wait, you can leave.Bye the way Barron Gift Collier was a New Yorker and is buried in Bronx NY.

ERCEN writes:

People in this economy are not going to pay 200-300 dollars more for a 30 minute car ride!

It would be great for our economy if it was successful though! Now Naples needs a spring training baseball team

gutcheck writes:

I'm not sure what will be louder, the planes or the New Yorkers.

spencer1 writes:

NO NO NO!!! We have enough Yankees here in Naples we do not need any direct flights to bring in Rude New Yorkers

wentfishn writes:

Yup all the NYers should go back and leave the midwesteners and the rednecks to it all. A match made in heaven. Too funny.Ya wonder why everything is done poorly here?Look at where all the local govt is from. Thinkaboutit! If ya can.

shwing writes:

Bring on Jetblue!
Jobs
Travel otions increase
1% of the noise complainers won't shut up anyway now, so bring on Jetblue. I have always lived very very close to the Naples Airport. Seeing or hearing a plane is nice and reminds us we live in paradise. As someone above said, Naples Airport was here before all of you, it is NEVER going to moved to the estates, so deal with it, move or just go to bed later with earplugs in you old whining cranky cranky heads.

blusideup writes:

in response to sunburnt:

And there it is, get ready for the 737's and if you go back to when they talked about expanding the airport you will see my comments saying that this was going to happen.

Errr- JetBlue doesn't have 737's Beavis.

gutcheck writes:

in response to wentfishn:

Yup all the NYers should go back and leave the midwesteners and the rednecks to it all. A match made in heaven. Too funny.Ya wonder why everything is done poorly here?Look at where all the local govt is from. Thinkaboutit! If ya can.

Look at where most of the money is from in Naples. Retirees from the midwest. All the New Yorkers can have Palm Beach, Boca and Miami....and you wonder why everything is run so poorly over there? Think about it! If you can.

SunStar writes:

Good news for the local manufacturing and technology companies

STONECRAB writes:

Those planes will be loaded with 2 legged bed bugs !

StrongIsland13 writes:

This will be great but seems completely unnecessary. RSW is a 30 min car ride.

In the end it will probably be similar to Jetblues existing NY-Sarasota route, 1 time a day.

SeeFuture writes:

So run a reader survey to test this issue.

Here4Now writes:

in response to wentfishn:

You dont have to wait, you can leave.Bye the way Barron Gift Collier was a New Yorker and is buried in Bronx NY.

My point exactly

Here4Now writes:

in response to wentfishn:

You dont have to wait, you can leave.Bye the way Barron Gift Collier was a New Yorker and is buried in Bronx NY.

Just don't look a Gift Collier in the mouth!

NaplesNurse79 writes:

Oh goody! Just what we need.....MORE traffic and rude people in Naples. NO Thank You.

wentfishn writes:

in response to STONECRAB:

Those planes will be loaded with 2 legged bed bugs !

Yup!And they eat the stone crabs that the locals catch and help them from runnin square grouper and poachin gators with the swamp people, Worked long enough here on the boats to know how much the locals hate the yankees.Heard them all the time.

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