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‘getblue’ campaign courting JetBlue for Fort Lauderdale to Tallahassee flights

A JetBlue plane on the tarmac at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in May 2015. A group of community leaders from Tallahassee is trying to convince the airline to set up regular service between Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee.
A JetBlue plane on the tarmac at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in May 2015. A group of community leaders from Tallahassee is trying to convince the airline to set up regular service between Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Traveling from South Florida to Europe has often been cheaper, and easier, than getting to the state capital. A group of community leaders from Tallahassee is aiming to ease the transit with a campaign directed at convincing JetBlue to run regular service from Fort Lauderdale to Tallahassee.

Dubbed “getBlue,” the campaign looks to raise $2 million in non-binding ticket sales collected through pledges from the South Florida community to prove a local need for the air service. The effort is led by the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, the city of Tallahassee and Tallahassee International Airport.

At an event at Broward College Monday, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar and Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross added their support to the campaign, which has already raised $356,000 in pledges.

“Hundreds of businesses and associations have locations in both the state capital and South Florida,” Kiar said. “So many decisions made in Tallahassee directly affect Broward’s residents and businesses, and JetBlue service would be tremendously helpful as our leaders work to shape public policy.”

Demand for direct flights from Fort Lauderdale to Tallahassee is particularly strong during the legislative session, which typically lasts from January to early March, said Steve Belleme, business development manager for Broward County. But once legislature ends, it tapers off.

“That’s always been the challenge,” Belleme said.

So many decisions made in Tallahassee directly affect Broward’s residents and businesses, and JetBlue service would be tremendously helpful as our leaders work to shape public policy.

Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar

Delta Air Lines began service between the two destinations in 2003, operating as many as four daily flights during the first quarter of the year and just one daily flight during off peak periods. The airline discontinued service in May 2014. Currently, regional airline Silver Airways is the only carrier providing service between Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee. American Airlines offers three daily flights from Miami International Airport.

The campaign hopes to show JetBlue executives that there is interest for the flights from both the Tallahassee and Fort Lauderdale communities.

Earlier this year, a campaign in Tallahassee to raise $2 million in pledges was well-received at JetBlue, said Lisa Garcia, senior vice president for Sachs Media Group. But JetBlue wanted to see that same kind of enthusiasm from South Florida travelers.

“We are always looking to expand and fly to the places people want to go. We have no decisions regarding Tallahassee, Fla., to announce at this time,” JetBlue said in a statement.

The campaign has until Oct. 21 to prove an equal level of need in South Florida, Garcia said.

The hope, she said, is to score low-cost flights between the two destinations. Flights next week on Silver Airways cost about $350 round trip.

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