Today’s news:

JetBlue seeks to fly planes out of LaGuardia Airport

The Forest Hills-based airline JetBlue, which generates more passenger traffic than any other airline serving John F. Kennedy International Airport, has applied for permission to fly out of LaGuardia Airport.

“As New York’s hometown airline, JetBlue’s planned LaGuardia service will allow us to introduce our brand of service to new customers who prefer to fly from LaGuardia,” said JetBlue CEO David Neeleman.

“It doesn’t change our growth plans for JFK where we will continue to add more flights to more cities and are working towards construction of a new terminal and a new hanger. But it does give our customers another option when they choose to fly JetBlue.”

JetBlue began operations in February 2000 and is the largest airline in terms of passengers at JFK, operating 84 daily flights to 19 cities.

JetBlue has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation requesting 10 slots at LaGuardia with plans to begin service there this spring.

The low-fare airline chose Kennedy in 2000 in part because LaGuardia had become the most congested airport in the nation, a condition that eased greatly after the attack on the World Trade Center.

JetBlue also announced it has arranged with Alertness Solutions of Cupertino, Calif., an internationally recognized fatigue expertise agency, to develop and implement an alertness management program to educate its crews about known fatigue factors in aviation operations.

JetBlue said that research has shown that fatigue is an operational risk that can be effectively managed to improve safety. The airline said training forums and alertness strategies will provide JetBlue crews with scientific approaches to manage the sleep and body clock disruption associated with flying.

JetBlue operates 214 flights daily that serve 22 destinations in 11 states and Puerto Rico. The airline plans to begin flights from JFK to Sacramento, Calif. on March 3.

JetBlue unveiled its plans for LaGuardia after it began offering $79 fares from Kennedy Airport and Boston’s Logan Airport to the West Coast on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Saturdays.

“Coast-to-coast travel is now available from just $79 each way on the airline that Conde Nast Traveler (magazine) readers have named best U.S. airline for two years in a row,” Neeleman said.

“New Yorkers and Californians have enjoyed the JetBlue experience for four years now and we’re excited to introduce this new experience to Bostonians this month also.”

The sale fare of $79 one-way is available between JFK and Long Beach, San Diego and Oakland, Calif. and between Boston and Long Beach and Boston and Oakland connecting in Long Beach.

The fare requires a seven-day advance purchase and must be bought at www.jetblue.com by Feb. 10 for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays through April 14. For $5 more, customers may book the fares by telephoning 1-800-JetBlue by Feb. 10.

JetBlue also announced it had named Todd Thompson as vice president of information technology.

Thompson, who has 21 years experience in information technology, and comes from SBI Razorfish in Salt Lake City, where he served as director of the company's western consulting practice.

The airline reported that its passenger volume in December increased 43.6 percent over December of 2002, on a capacity that rose 48.2 percent because of an increase in the number of flights.

JetBlue said snowstorms in the Northeast affected its operations in December.

JetBlue, which began flying in February 2000, operates a fleet of 53 new Airbus A320 jetliners and plans to add another 16 A320s this year. The airline has on order 100 Brazilian Embraer 190 jets with options for an additional 100 with deliveries scheduled to begin in mid-2005.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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