New York - JetBlue, New York's Hometown Airline®, today announced the development of a Caribbean consortium with The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). Aligned with other like-minded partners across multiple disciplines, this effort will address conservation and commerce in the Caribbean. The Consortium will start with a “Spotlight on Cuba” and will focus on other Caribbean destinations in the future. In 2016, JetBlue became the first U.S. airline to bring affordable and convenient commercial air travel to Cuba after more than 50 years.

During year one, this group will make recommendations on development and environmental issues, to help ensure that Cuba’s natural habitat is protected for future generations. With support from members including JetBlue, The New York Botanical Garden will build upon past findings on Cuba and the Caribbean at large through four key components of conservation action – capacity-building, influencing public policy, knowledge-sharing and increasing access to resources.

“One-third of our network is in the Caribbean and Latin America. Conserving the natural resources of Cuba, one of the most ecologically diverse islands, is important to maintaining its unique ecosystem,” said Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue’s head of sustainability. “JetBlue wants to protect the region’s natural beauty, which in turn protects progress and our business. This is particularly relevant as development in Cuba continues to grow.”

Under the direction of Dr. Brian Boom, Vice President for Conservation Strategy, who leads NYBG’s Cuba initiative, the NYBG Caribbean Consortium will bring together a cross-section of key stakeholders from business, academia, and NGOs.

“It is very gratifying to see research results on the threatened plants in Cuba, conducted over many years by NYBG and its collaborators, being used to help inform sustainable visits to Cuba,” Dr. Boom said. “This partnership with JetBlue is going to help translate conservation research into conservation action.”

The partnership will also include opportunities for JetBlue customers and crewmembers, New York-area residents, and visitors to The New York Botanical Garden to learn more about the Caribbean including Cuba and its biodiversity.

This partnership is an extension of JetBlue’s conservation efforts in the Caribbean outlined in EcoEarnings: A Shore Thing.This report highlights the connection between ecosystems and revenue. Travel to the Caribbean is a key pillar of JetBlue’s business model. Large-scale environmental degradation in the Caribbean is a risk to demand for air travel to the area, impacting airlines and tourism companies like JetBlue. This study starts to link the importance of clean, intact, and healthy beaches and shorelines to tourism’s profitability in the Caribbean, with a focus on JetBlue and industry revenue per available seat mile (RASM).