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JetBlue last week stopped service to and from New Mexico’s largest airport, a move officials say they expect will be only temporary.
The airline has halted its single daily flight between the Albuquerque International Sunport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, having successfully requested permission from the federal government.
The approval – granted amid a pandemic that has decimated passenger demand – was granted through Sept. 30.
Sunport officials say they have been in contact with JetBlue and all the airlines serving the city and believe JetBlue will come back.
“At this point, we have no reason to believe that they will not return as passenger demand returns,” Sunport spokeswoman Stephanie Kitts said in an emailed response to Journal questions Monday.
Airlines like JetBlue that are benefitting from the $2.2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package are required to maintain a minimal level of service through Sept. 30. However, airlines were allowed to request the U.S. Department of Transportation give certain exemptions, as was the case with JetBlue’s Albuquerque service.
In an email, a spokesman with JetBlue said the “exemption would give us maximum flexibility to make no changes, reduce flying, or temporarily suspended service.”
JetBlue has been in the Albuquerque market since it began a daily flight to New York in 2013, but the pandemic has obliterated usage.
A total of 55 passengers boarded JetBlue’s planes from the Sunport in the entire month of April, compared to 3,035 in April of 2019, according to airport data.
That’s in line with overall trends for the Sunport, which saw total April passenger traffic plummet 96% from 2019.
Kitts said Allegiant Air also asked to suspend its Albuquerque service but the federal government denied its request.
Journal staff writer Pilar Martinez contributed to this report.