American Airlines and jetBlue battle for supremacy in the Dominican Republic; Punta Cana welcomes most new routes

jetBlue, the second-largest airline in the Dominican Republic, launched flights to Punta Cana from both New York JFK and Boston in May this year. The airline now serves all four main airports in the Caribbean nation.

Route Launch Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic, located in the Caribbean, occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, with Haiti occupying the remainder. With a population of around 10 million people, it is the second-largest Caribbean nation after Cuba. The country is served by four main airports at Punta Cana (PUJ), Santo Domingo (SDQ), Puerto Plata (POP) and Santiago (STI). In 2008, these four airports handled around nine million passengers in total, with Punta Cana the busiest (3.8 million), followed by Santo Domingo (3.0 million). Traffic peaks occur both in the summer and winter months thanks to the all year round warm climate, which attracts North Americans and Europeans looking to escape the cold winters.

Map of the Dominican Republic

Examining scheduled capacity data for last March (a peak month) reveals the dominance of US carriers at the country’s airports. Five of the top seven airlines are based in the US and the leading non-US carrier, Skyservice of Canada, sadly ceased operating at the end of last March.

Top 12 carriers serving Dominican Republic Weekly departing seat capacity by airport (March 2010)

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 March 2010

Since then, jetBlue has added flights to Punta Cana with new daily services from New York JFK and a twice-weekly service from Boston, both in May.

Air Dominicana plane

As the Dominican Republic greatly depends on inbound international tourism, attempts have been made to form an own national airline. The most recent attempt, Air Dominicana, was short-lived and never even took to the skies.

New routes focus on Punta Cana

Several new services will be starting to the Dominican Republic this winter, predominantly to Punta Cana.

Date Airline From To WF
31 October 2010 Transaero Moscow Sheremetyevo Punta Cana 2
2 November 2010 Aeroflot Moscow Sheremetyevo Punta Cana 1
7 November Air Transat Ottawa Punta Cana 1
25 December 2010 Air Canada Ottawa Punta Cana 1
16 February 2011 AirTran Atlanta Punta Cana 2
3 May 2011 Thomson East Midlands Punta Cana 1
10 May 2011 Thomson East Midlands Puerto Plata 1
Source: new route database

As a result, the leading airlines in the Dominican Republic this December (another peak month) are still American Airlines and jetBlue, but several European carriers are now ranked in the top 12. Air Europa, Iberia and Transaero are all now ranked among the leading airlines, although there are still six US carriers among the leading dozen carriers.

Top 12 carriers serving Dominican Republic Weekly departing seat capacity by airport (December 2010)

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 December 2010


  1. SALAH UDDIN says:

    It is indeed strange that with such a huge tourist traffic potential, why has DOMINICANA never been revived? What is it that hinders a local Dominican Republic Airline to take to the skies?

  2. James Burke says:

    It will be interesting to see how this changes next year. With Skyservice being done, the hole will be filled by a collection of Canadian carriers. We’ll probably see Air Canada Jazz (on behalf of Thomas Cook), Sunwing and/or Transat on that list next March…

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