Would Open Service From NYC, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale And
The US Department of Transportation
(DOT) proposed this week to grant four US airlines the right to
operate one new daily flight apiece between the United States and
Bogota, Colombia. In a tentative decision, the Department selected
Delta Air Lines from New York’s JFK Airport, JetBlue Airways
from Orlando, Spirit Airlines from Fort Lauderdale, and Continental
Airlines from Houston.
Three of the new daily flights were made available by a
September 2007 US-Colombia aviation agreement which increased, from
70 to 91, the total number of weekly flights that US carriers may
operate between the two countries. Twenty-one new weekly flights
will be phased-in by the end of 2008. In addition, the Department
proposed to reallocate one daily U.S.-Colombia flight currently
held by American Airlines.
DOT noted that air travel between the United States and Colombia
increased by approximately 200,000 passengers between 2002 and
2006, with more than 750,000 passengers traveling between the two
countries a year ago.
In its tentative decision, the Department said the award to
Delta would provide the heavily-traveled New York-Bogota market
with additional service and would increase competition and consumer
choices. The services of JetBlue and Spirit would introduce two new
carriers to the US-Colombia market, and provide Orlando and Fort
Lauderdale with their first direct service to Colombia operated by
a US air carrier. Continental’s service from Houston would
address the need for additional convenient service options to
Colombia for travelers from the central and western United States,
the Department said.
If the tentative decision is made final, Delta may begin its new
services immediately, JetBlue and Spirit on April 1, and
Continental on October 1. In addition to the four carriers
receiving awards, US Airways applied for service between Charlotte,
NC and Bogota, and American sought to retain the frequencies it
currently holds for additional service between Miami and
Objections to the show-cause order must be filed within 14
calendar days and answers to objections seven calendar days
afterward. On Thursday, American responded angrily to the news it
would have to give up its regular flight to Bogata.
"We do not believe that it was legitimate for DOT to seize
American's duly authorized frequencies for reallocation to another
carrier," said Tim Smith, a spokesman for the Fort Worth-based
Nevertheless, last week the airline started ramping down service
on the flight, which no longer operates daily, according to The
Associated Press. Unless its appeal is granted, Smith says American
will stop its service by the end of the month.