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Potential partners on board with JetBlue RFP vision

By Andrew Tellijohn
JetBlue Airways Corp.’s efforts to fill the new 635,000 square foot passenger terminal it will operate at John F. Kennedy International (JFK) with food, beverage and retail have won accolades from the companies that hope to compete for that business.

About 200 master developers, branded franchises, concessionaires and other food service and retail operators attended a meeting June 5 held as a forum for discussing concerns and asking questions about the request for proposals (RFP), which was made available May 23.

A few of the attendees, who spoke with ARN on the condition of anonymity, described the RFP as fairly structured and clear, and they left with the indication that they would be able to compete for slots at Terminal 5.
One source, who works with disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) says he “got the feeling they were very sincere about DBE involvement” in the concessions program. “My clients want to know ‘can I compete or can I not compete,” the source says, adding that he thinks as a private entity that has been in the business of making a profit Jet Blue might have been more straightforward than several public and governmental organizations can be when setting the requirements.

Another agrees that the airline put the RFP together well with a lot of information and a clear vision. The source expressed concern that JetBlue might have taken one step that will make its evaluations more difficult. There are certain packages for coffee and for quick service restaurants, the source says, then there are nine individual units. Contenders can bid on the individual packages or they can also link them with those individual units.

“That could get quite complicated for them,” the source says. “It is a nice piece of flexibility.”

A call to Raymond Smyth from JetBlue was not returned. But a company announcement at the ARN web site says the airlines is “seeking business partners who share our passion for the highest levels of customer service and our vision of ‘bringing humanity back to air travel.’ and those who wish to join us as we write a new chapter in the history of Jet Blue.”