Published on : Friday, March 22, 2019
Virgin Trains USA plans to partner with airlines to offer its seamless connections to travellers when its extension to Orlando International airport opens which will be the country’s first in-terminal long-distance rail connection at an airport.
The private rail operator, previously known as Brightline, plans to enter into interline agreements with JetBlue Airways and other major airlines via Orlando to facilitate transfers, Virgin Trains chief commercial officer Ravneet Bhandari said in a roadshow presentation for a $1.5 billion bond to partially fund the project on 20 March.
He says that they intend to have interlined agreements with all major airlines to seamlessly move passengers across their network. JetBlue, commenting on any potential interline partnership with Virgin Trains, says that they are “always looking for options to add even more convenience for our customers” without providing further details.
Virgin Trains will serve a station in Orlando airport’s under construction South Terminal when service from South Florida begins in the third quarter of 2022. JetBlue will anchor the terminal, which will also handle Spirit Airlines’ international flights, when it opens in 2021.
The in-terminal connection will be the first in the USA, where existing long-distance airport-rail connections require passengers to ride either a bus or tram between the airport terminal and rail station. Airline partnerships with long-distance rail operators are common outside the USA. Air France, KLM and Lufthansa all sell connections between flights and long-distance trains at their respective Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam and Frankfurt hubs on their websites.
In the USA, United Airlines sells itineraries with connections to Amtrak at its Newark hub. However, the Newark Liberty rail station is only connected to the terminals via a tram. Orlando airport is among the busiest in the USA with 47.7 million passengers in 2018, airport data shows. It is the busiest in Florida.
Southwest Airlines handled nearly a quarter of the airport’s traffic, followed by Delta Air Lines with a 14% share and JetBlue with a 12.2% share, Cirium schedules data shows.