JetBlue launched Atlanta-Boston flights on Thursday as a squabble over gate space at the world’s busiest airport continues.
The first JetBlue flight taxied to a gate at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in between two fire trucks, but without the customary arcs of water sprayed in celebration for inaugural flights. An airport spokesman cited the region’s recent drought for the lack of a water salute.
It’s the second time New York-based JetBlue has touched down at Hartsfield-Jackson. It briefly served the market in 2003 but withdrew amid hot competition.
Atlanta has become the most requested destination for JetBlue, the airline said.
Moose McGehee, a JetBlue captain who lives in Auburn, Ala., was on the inaugural flight. He has had to commute on other airlines from Atlanta to get to his base in Boston.
“It’s just wonderful to be able to commute on my own airline,” McGehee said.
He said when he tells JetBlue customers he commutes from Atlanta, “The first thing they ask me is, ‘When are you going to start service in Atlanta?’”
The low-cost carrier has said it plans to launch more routes but is haggling for gate space.
JetBlue wants to operate out of international Concourses E or F, but the Atlanta airport has assigned it to Concourse D for most of its flights. Hartsfield-Jackson officials say international flights are the priority for Concourses E and F, which are more spacious and have more amenities.
“We will find space for their future flights,” McCranie said.