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JetBlue to Open its First Pilot and Flight Attendant Base in Puerto Rico Helping the Airline Recover From ‘Irregular Operations’

JetBlue to Open its First Pilot and Flight Attendant Base in Puerto Rico Helping the Airline Recover From ‘Irregular Operations’

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It might sound strange that the largest airline to serve an airport doesn’t have any pilots or flight attendants based there, but that’s exactly the situation that JetBlue has found itself in at San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico.

It’s a state of affairs that JetBlue says it now plans to correct with plans to open a crew base on the island with plans to have as many as 120 pilots and up to 325 flight attendants based in San Juan over the next few years.

The base is expected to open by the end of the year, coinciding with JetBlue’s recent announcement that it would further expand service from Puerto Rico to the United States, as well as the Caribbean and Latin America.

Until now, JetBlue has only ever had crew bases in the contiguous United States, with pilots and flight attendants based in Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Los Angeles.

Crew members start and end their trips in their assigned base, so adding a base in a destination with such a heavy presence for JetBlue will allow the airline to recover quicker when faced with ‘irregular operations’ like severe weather, the airline said.

“We’re so excited to base hundreds more crewmembers right here in San Juan, where we are proud to be the largest airline with plans to grow even more,” commented Warren Christie, JetBlue’s chief operating officer on Wednesday.

“The new crew base will support our operation as we grow and benefit the local economy in a place we are proud to call home.”

The announcement from JetBlue comes just four months after Frontier Airlines said it had penned a deal with the government of Puerto Rico to open a new pilot and flight attendant base in San Juan, where up to 290 crew members will be based.

Although Frontier has a smaller presence in Puerto Rico than JetBlue, the ultra-low-cost carrier says it is currently the fastest-growing airline on the island and has more than doubled its seat capacity in Puerto Rico in the last four years.

Frontier is embracing a turnaround network model in which aircraft and crew start and finish the day at their assigned base, so opening a crew station in San Juan makes sense for the airline.

The Denver-based carrier is hoping to make significant savings with its new business model, although its not without controversy and has attracted the ire of flight attendants who say their current contract will leave them out of pocket.;

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