Yesterday, Jetblue announced another massive expansion in the wake of its Newark expansion announced weeks ago. According to multiple sources, Jetblue will add multiple new destinations at Los Angeles International Airport(LAX) establishing its presence as a focus city at the cost of its former presence in Long Beach(LGB).
The End of Long Beach
Primarily, Jetblue is replacing one focus city with another via LGB and LAX. Jetblue will discontinue its route portfolio in Long Beach and move it 20 miles over to Los Angeles. The exception to this is Portland (PDX) which will not be transferred over to Los Angeles. As part of the move, Jetblue's crew and maintenance bases in Long Beach will be moved to Los Angeles.
Jetblue has been serving Long Beach since August 2001 with service to New York City and later Washington-Dulles(now discontinued as a destination). Later, it became a base in 2002. In the past few years, the Long Beach base has shrunk heavily which all started in 2017. Jetblue wanted a customs facility built to facilitate services to Mexico, but they were ultimately shut down by the city. Additionally, Jetblue has had disputes over slots and noise concerns over flights in the early morning/late night with the city.
Ultimately, for most aviation analysts, the move has been coming for months. COVID-19 has just accelerated it.
Long Beach Airport's future will probably consist of a larger presence by Southwest. During the last slot allocations, Southwest heavily lobbied for 8 slots, receiving 3 slots instead. With 11 slots now vacated, Southwest will take the chance to open more routes/frequencies from the airport.
Jetblue will still continually serve Burbank(BUR) and Ontario(ONT) in the Los Angeles area. Jetblue flies to Boston and New York City and New York City respectively.
Jetblue's Newest Base...
Jetblue will basically be transitioning all of its former Long Beach presence to Los Angeles. Below is a list of their future presence at LAX starting on October 7th:
- Boston Logan (BOS)
- Bozeman (BZN)
- Buffalo (BUF)
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- New York-JFK
- New York/Newark-EWR (commences on July 23rd)
- Orlando (MCO)
- Reno (RNO)
- Salt Lake City (SLC)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)
Additionally, Jetblue has stated that they plan to operate 70 daily flights from LAX by 2025. They plan for expansion to new domestic and international markets. It is unclear how they will obtain gates to operate these services. Currently, Jetblue operates in Terminal 5 at LAX which houses a majority of LAX's low-cost carriers. However, Jetblue will probably obtain gates from a smaller American Airlines presence and smaller presences from other low cost carriers.
Jetblue will be fending against heavy competition on all of its routes, competing against legacy carriers, west-coast dominant carriers like Alaska Airlines, and low-cost carriers. Jetblue will probably not have enough frequency to make a significant presence on any of these routes, due to its limited availability of gates. Additionally, it is unclear whether the current market can suffice any of these new routes, considering the high amount of competition.
Looking at the Bigger Picture For Jetblue
Ultimately, Jetblue is trying to focus on the core of its business in the Northeast and Southeast while reorganizing its business to suit what it believes is a "better tomorrow". For example, Jetblue announced a massive 30 route expansion from its newest hub in New York/Newark-EWR, further solidifying its presence in New York City. Additionally, the airline announced growth in the Southeast, specifically Florida, taking advantage of a market that is coming back fast due to leisure traffic.
The play at LAX for Jetblue feels like a long-term investment to solidify a presence at the airport, taking advantage of other airlines' weaknesses. Additionally, it allows for Jetblue to target Caribbean and Mexican routes that it couldn't previously do at LAX. However, it seems questionable how they will survive on certain routes considering the high levels of competition.
Jetblue's Head of Revenue and Network Planning, Scott Laurence, states, "LAX is one of JetBlue's most successful markets and offers the valuable opportunity to grow significantly both domestically and internationally while introducing our low fares on more routes. The transition to LAX, serving as the anchor of our focus city strategy on the West Coast, sets JetBlue up for success in Southern California. We continue to seize on opportunities to emerge from this pandemic a stronger competitive force in the industry."
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