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Hello, Beantown: SRQ lands Boston flight

MANATEE — Seeing the Green Monster up close, shopping in Faneuil Hall and eating fresh clam chowder in Quincy Market will become just a three-hour flight away from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport later this year.

JetBlue Airways announced Tuesday that it will begin seasonal service between SRQ and Boston in November, making the local airport the airline’s seventh Florida city served by the Northeast hub.

“It’s a popular destination for our customers in Boston,” JetBlue spokeswoman Alison Croyle said of Sarasota-Bradenton. “We wanted to give them additional options to fly to the state of Florida.”

JetBlue said the first daily nonstop flight will take off from Boston’s Logan International Airport at 10:50 a.m. Nov. 18, and land at SRQ at 2:20 p.m. The plane, expected to be a 100-seat Embraer 190, then will depart SRQ at 3 p.m. and arrive in Boston three hours later.

That schedule will be maintained daily during the winter season, but the airline didn’t say how long the flight will be offered.

Fredrick “Rick” Piccolo, SRQ’s president and chief executive, said seasonal service at SRQ typically ends in May. But “we are hoping that maybe, just maybe, if it goes real well, it will extend beyond that.”

SRQ had been lobbying JetBlue for Boston service almost since the airline entered the Sarasota-Bradenton market in 2006. The airline now offers daily service to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“Boston has been the No. 1 market that we haven’t had service to,” Piccolo said. “This has always been one of the most-desired markets that we didn’t have.”

By adding the Boston flight, JetBlue becomes eligible for $125,000 in marketing assistance from SRQ and a fee waiver of $5 for each departing passenger. Piccolo estimated the fee waiver could save JetBlue as much as $80,000 over six months.

JetBlue said introductory fares on the Boston-SRQ route will begin at $69 one-way, but there are restrictions. Among them: Tickets must be purchased online by May 11, travel must be between Nov. 15 and Dec. 30, and Fridays and Sundays are blacked out.

Regular one-way fares will range from $123 to $378, according to a query of JetBlue’s online reservation system.

The new Sarasota-Bradenton flight is part of JetBlue’s expansion plans in Boston. During the summer and fall, the airline plans to increase its Boston flight schedule by 30 percent, to an average of 75 departures a day, by adding flights to more than a dozen cities.

Local business leaders lauded SRQ’s inclusion in that expansion.

“Hooray, hooray, hooray,” said Bob Bartz, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce’s president. “Boston, that’s a big market for us. It’s fantastic.”

Duane Marsteller, transportation/growth and development reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.

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