NAPLES, Fla.- Naples Municipal Airport leaders met with JetBlue officials in New York City yesterday to talk about bringing the commercial airliner to Naples.
Airport Executive Director Ted Soliday says it was a productive and cordial meeting, and a good opportunity for both sides to meet face to face.
He says, "it was important for us to talk back and forth and you could look in a person's eyes and say we need that piece of information and for them to say the same thing to us."
He says both sides still have a lot of homework to do before the plans for JetBlue service from New York to Naples can take flight.
He says there are several concerns that need to be worked out. "Weight of the aircraft they'll be operating and how many flights and where they are going to. And the landing distance, we've always been concerned about the landing distance."
The weight limit on the runway at the Naples airport is 75,000 pounds. But the JetBlue aircraft is about 115,000, so the airport authority would have to apply for a weight wavier to make it happen. He says that is the main point of contention for people who oppose the plans. "The weight restriction is the typical thing. If we are going to let somebody change that, the next thing is we'll be bringing 747s in here and that's just nonsense and not true."
He adds, "yes we'd like to have aircraft less than 75,000 pounds but those aircraft are having a hard time competing with the price of fuel right now and maybe that's not a possibility."
But he is encouraged by the progress, and hopes airport authority will vote on plans by the end of the year. "Having JetBlue say they are interested is very positive for us but we just have to know what weight we are talking about, number of operations and things like that," he says.
The airport authority will meet on October 18, but JetBlue representative will not be there.
If the airport authority approves the plan in the next few months, JetBlue could be flying in by November of next year.