JetBlue sets its sights on ocean conservation
Dec. 16, 2013, New York, N.Y. - JetBlue Airways today announces a unique partnership with The Ocean Foundation focusing on the long-term health of the Caribbean's oceans and beaches, a Commitment to Action developed at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Latin America meeting.
December 16, 2013 By Carey Fredericks
The airline becomes the first travel company to tie nature's wellbeing in the Caribbean to its revenue.
The Ocean Foundation will work with the airline to develop a plan to protect the region's natural resources, show the value of clean beaches and directly tie ecology and the importance of nature to the airline's base measurement — revenue per available seat mile (RASM). Destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean now make up one-third of JetBlue's route network.
"We have a vested interest in preserving the ocean and maintaining clean beaches," said James Hnat, JetBlue's executive vice president corporate affairs and general counsel. "A large part of JetBlue's business is transporting customers from cold cities to warm, beautiful beaches. The health and appearance of a destination has a direct impact on our revenue. By putting actual dollar numbers to the importance of ocean conservation, we will strengthen interest in protecting the destinations and ecosystems we depend on both financially and ecologically. Funding for smart NGOs such as The Ocean Foundation is essential to the long-term preservation of the Caribbean."
Mark J. Spalding, president of The Ocean Foundation, and ocean conservationist for more than 25 years stated, "If you think it sounds obvious that travel companies profit more in locations with beautiful beaches, then we have to ask — why countries whose GDP depends on tourism aren't already natural leaders in conservation or waste reduction? The answer is that assumptions are not good enough. Assumptions do not create action. What we are doing is turning this assumption into evidence specific enough to matter in financial filings."
CGI connected JetBlue with The Ocean Foundation whose mission is to advance global ocean conservation. The organizations will develop a Commitment to Action to measure the value of clean beaches in the Caribbean, tie it to JetBlue's revenue, and devise a business-relevant plan to preserve and protect the ocean.
"Travel companies make money off of nature and its beauty. Yet this investment is rarely reported in financial documents and almost never tied to revenue. To change that, we are calculating how much revenue per customer we owe to the Caribbean's beauty," said Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue's head of sustainability. "The value of beaches depends on many factors. Clean beaches ultimately affect our bottom-line and therefore are worth tracking and investing in cleaning and protecting. We will work with The Ocean Foundation to first understand the connection between our revenue and this natural resource — and then develop business related solutions to marine pollution and conservation."
JetBlue will focus on key destinations with The Ocean Foundation for a joint Caribbean ecology valuation template. The purpose is to conduct an economic analysis that determines the percentage of RASM from beach-oriented locations due to a clean oceanfront. Destinations include San Juan; Ponce; Santo Domingo; Punta Cana; Kingston; Montego Bay; Barbados and Grand Cayman. These locations were chosen based on their diverse ecosystems, number of tourists, volume of coastal debris, average tourist spend and country GDP.
In the Caribbean, JetBlue is the largest carrier in terms of capacity in both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, offering more flights than any other airline. The carrier operates one of its six focus cities at San Juan's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. JetBlue is a leading airline in the Caribbean, soon offering nonstop service to 25 destinations across the region including Aguadilla; Aruba; Barbados; Bermuda; Cancún; Cartagena; Grand Cayman; Kingston; La Romana; Montego Bay; Nassau; Ponce; Port-au-Prince; Port of Spain (a); Providenciales; Puerto Plata; Punta Cana; Saint Lucia (Hewanorra); Samaná; San Juan; Santiago; Santo Domingo; St. Croix; St. Maarten; and St. Thomas. This winter JetBlue will operate an average of 200 flights to, from, and within the region.