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JetBlue announce new nonstop routes to Las Vegas

It lends credence to the theory that things like this tend to happen in threes.

JetBlue Airways became the third airline in three days to announce new nonstop routes to Las Vegas.

The New York-based airline said Wednesday that it would launch two daily round-trip flights between San Francisco and Las Vegas beginning Jan. 5.

The airline is introducing the route with a restricted number of $38 one-way fares on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday flights between Jan. 10 and April 1 that have to be bought by Friday.

The 1½-hour flights will leave McCarran International Airport at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., with return flights departing San Francisco International Airport at 1:15 and 7:15 p.m.

The airline will use 150-passenger Airbus A320 twin-engine jets on the route.

JetBlue has a small presence at McCarran with 10 daily flights to three markets, Boston, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Long Beach, Calif. On Oct. 28, the airline will launch a new nonstop route between Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

In August, Dave Barger, who recently stepped down as CEO of JetBlue, said the airline was contemplating flights between McCarran and San Juan, Puerto Rico, which if initiated would create the first nonstop route from Las Vegas into the Caribbean.

San Francisco is McCarran’s second busiest route behind Los Angeles with an average 24 daily flights. The route currently is served by three carriers, market leader United Airlines, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines.

Some analysts view JetBlue’s new San Francisco route as a retaliatory move against Virgin America, which on Tuesday announced seasonal flights four times a week between Jan. 8 and April 28 between Boston and Las Vegas and the addition of two weekly round trips between New York and Las Vegas.

Virgin America and JetBlue are similar in that they use creature comforts and technology to improve the passenger experience on flights. Both have free seat-back entertainment systems and JetBlue is one of the last airline holdouts not to charge a fee for the first checked bag.

JetBlue also initiated its Mint service on transcontinental flights earlier this year. A section of the Airbus A321 jets used for the service includes seats that transform to lay-flat beds. JetBlue plans to add Mint service flights as it takes delivery of more of the larger jets. Mint service will begin on some San Francisco-New York on Oct. 26 and Barger indicated Mint operations may be coming to JetBlue’s East Coast routes to Las Vegas in the future.

The Virgin and JetBlue flight schedule updates followed a Monday announcement by Edelweiss Air of a third weekly round trip between Las Vegas and Zurich that begins in June.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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