JetBlue Airways completed its inaugural flight to San Francisco International Airport on Thursday morning amid much fanfare, sky-high expectations that it will spur record passenger loads for the airport — and a little civic gloating.
“Let me just say this, and it’ll feel good saying it: Oakland, eat your heart out,” San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said at a press conference.
JetBlue announced in January that it would be landing at SFO, joining fellow low-cost carrier Virgin America, which is still wrangling with the federal government to earn permission to fly. Shortly after JetBlue broke the news that it was headed to SFO, Southwest Airlines announced that it would resume flights here, following a pullout earlier this decade.
Newsom said the arrival of JetBlue was a coup, given the regional competition among airports.
“One area where we frankly have been trailing since the late 1990s is our domestic carriers,” Newsom said. “We have seen them focus their attention on Oakland, we have seen them focus their attention on San Jose. But we’re seeing new energy, new focus, to come to this newly designed airport here.”
JetBlue will start with four nonstop flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, one nonstop flight to Logan International Airport in Boston and one nonstop flight to Salt Lake City International Airport.
Newsom’s office estimated that the nonstop flights from JetBlue would spur the creation of at least 1,900 jobs in the Bay Area. Airfare analysts have noted that the rapid low-cost carrier growth at SFO creates competition that would likely result in lower fares for customers.
New York resident Sara Hruska, who traveled on the inaugural JetBlue flight, said she was very satisfied.
“It was very smooth. I watched TV and listened to the radio the whole time,” Hruska said.