The low-fare subsidiary of US Airways follows JetBlue in marketing low-cost flights from Tampa to New York City.
By JEAN HELLER
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 7, 2000
For years, there was no low-fare airline service between Florida and New York City. Now it is a growth industry.
US Airways announced Monday that its low-fare subsidiary, MetroJet, will begin service to LaGuardia Airport from four Florida cities, including Tampa, on May 7 and will add a fifth Florida destination in June.
The service between Tampa and LaGuardia is scheduled to begin less than two months after start-up airline JetBlue opens low-fare service between Tampa and John F. Kennedy International Airport on March 16. Southwest Airlines flies between Tampa and Islip, Long Island.
US Airways spokesman David Castleveter denied that the MetroJet service is a competitive response to JetBlue.
"What we're doing is making the most efficient use of our aircraft," Castleveter said. "These are routes US Airways already flies. All we are doing is transitioning from the main line to MetroJet so we can fly from Florida to New York with low fares on aircraft that are cheaper for us to operate."
The MetroJet move into the Florida-New York market is similar to the announcement last fall that Delta Express, the low-fare subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, will replace three Delta flights from Fort Lauderdale to JFK with four Delta Express flights in April.
Like MetroJet, Delta Express denies itsmove was a competitive response to JetBlue.
Louis Miller, executive director of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, said he doesn't believe that, but motives are not what is important.
"New York is the largest market we serve from Tampa, significantly larger than Atlanta, even," Miller said. "This is good news for us and good news for New York and can only expand the number of people we serve."
The new MetroJet service from Tampa will replace four daily US Airways flights and will use Boeing 737-200 aircraft with 118 single-class seats.
JetBlue flies Airbus A320s configured in 162 single-class seats.
Fourteen-day advance purchase sale prices on Tampa-New York MetroJet flights will be the same as JetBlue's, $79 one way. But JetBlue's one-way walk-up fare is $158, compared to MetroJet's $213 or more.
Other MetroJet service to New York begins May 7 from Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and West Palm Beach with service from Jacksonville scheduled on June 11.