(NECN: Mike Cronin) - There's renewed optimism of JetBlue landing a deal in Worcester.
Massachusetts Port Authority CEO Thomas Glynn met with city leaders on Friday. He said the airline is enthusiastic about getting a deal done.
“I think there's a lot of reasons for optimism,” Glynn said. “It's not done till it's done, but all the steps so far have been positive.”
Massport said it is talking to JetBlue about the possibility of a couple flights per day from Worcester Regional to Florida. City Manager Mike O’Brien argues that Florida could just be the beginning.
“That’ll rapidly grow because of the response, opportunities to get us to other hubs like Washington and New York to then take their flight system out west,” O’Brien said.
Last summer, JetBlue’s CEO visited Worcester. O'Brien said airline executives will be returning on Jan. 23 to meet with local leaders and discuss possible partnerships.
“That kind of reinforcement from that leadership is going to be key for them to see here and touch,” O’Brien said. “I believe we'll more than convince them that this is the right move.”
Direct Air ended its Worcester service last March, but O’Brien said they flew with 80 percent capacity and were making money. He said JetBlue recognizes the potential in central Mass.
“I expect there will be an announcement very soon about JetBlue's commitment to Worcester,” O’Brien said. “Fingers crossed, there's a lot of moving parts, but I am very confident that this is going to happen.”
Glynn said Massport is investing $30 million toward improving the Category III landing system at the Worcester Airport. He said that if Massport and JetBlue reach a deal, flights could begin sometime in 2014.
“Worcester's the second biggest city in New England, and it should have its airport,” Glynn said. “It's an economic engine for the rest of the business community if we have a successful airport.”