MANATEE -- JetBlue has told Sarasota Bradenton International Airport officials it plans to cut back its year-round service to New York's JFK International to a seasonal schedule.
The low-cost airline has operated daily flights between SRQ and JFK and New York's LaGuardia airport for several years. Rick Piccolo, CEO at SRQ, said he learned this week JetBlue is making the cut to move aircraft to a busier sector of the market. JFK flights out of SRQ will end in May and will return in October or November. The carrier will retain its daily service to LaGuardia.
Delta Airlines, another SRQ carrier, also offers daily LaGuardia flights.
Piccolo said route moves like this one are common in the airline industry.
"This stuff happens all the time," he said. "They
need aircraft and they had to take one."
Last year, JetBlue reduced capacity on the JFK route, replacing a larger aircraft with a commuter-size plane. Those flights operate at about 78 percent capacity during the summer months. During the peak visitation season in Florida, that number jumps to more than 85 percent, Piccolo said.
The cutback will not have a significant effect on the airport's operations or budget. He said the airport may lose out on as much as $15,000 in landing fees. SRQ has an operating budget of about $20 million.
Airport operations have seen an uptick in 2016 so far. Through the first three months of the year, passenger traffic is up 6.4 percent compared with a year ago, Piccolo said.
The airport picked up more service to Toronto in December when low-cost Canadian carrier WestJet started bringing two twice-weekly flights to SRQ for the busy season.
It added another flight in February.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.