Building on yesterday’s report that JetBlue plans “aggressive” changes to its route network details the changes are now public. One new international destination joins the route map and several routes see increased frequencies. The carrier will also close three stations and shift one to seasonal service. A handful of routes will also be shuttered. This round of changes will begin to show in JetBlue‘s schedule effective in January 2019.
Growth is coming to the three east coast focus cities (JFK, BOS, FLL) as expected, though all three also see some cuts. These are the types of moves that with a shift towards the “accretive opportunities in our primary focus cities” EVP Commercial & Planning Marty St. George highlighted on the investor call. Guayaquil, Ecuador (GYE) is the new destination, picking up a daily flight from Fort Lauderdale. The South Florida base will also add Phoenix (PHX) and St. Maarten (SXM) service in the new year. Boston will add service to Rochester, NY (ROC) and Providence, RI (PVD) will add service to West Palm Beach, Florida (PBI).
A number of routes will also see increased service frequencies, with a significant focus on Caribbean markets from the three hubs.
On the cuts side, three stations will be closed permanently. First up on the chopping block is Washington-Dulles Airport (IAD). Currently the only JetBlue service from IAD is to JFK and Boston. Each route sees three daily flights. The Boston traffic can be absorbed into the carrier’s nine daily flights to Washington-Reagan National Airport (DCA) while the JFK traffic will be ceded to Delta Air Lines. Given the relatively weak yields on the two routes consolidation into DCA is a logical step as Daytona Beach (DAB) and St Croix (STX) also lose service completely with the cuts. The company will offer those employees a priority transfer option to other stations, including relocation support or a severance package that includes flight benefits. Portland, Maine (PWM) will convert to a Summer seasonal operation for the airline, owing to the “strong surge in travel during the warmer months” that the destination sees.
At Fort Lauderdale the growth into the Caribbean is offset by cuts to other routes in the USA. Baltimore (BWI), Detroit (DTW), Long Beach (LGB) and Pittsburgh (PIT) all lose their South Florida connection with JetBlue as part of these adjustments. The Baltimore service competes against a strong Southwest Airlines presence (serving hub-to-hub traffic) and Spirit Airlines. The DTW route sees similar competition from Delta and Spirit. JetBlue’s hub operations at Fort Lauderdale are strong and St. George noted in the investor briefing that the company is confident in its ability to compete against Spirit at the ULCC/Basic Economy level given its long experience sharing that hub. Still, the less frequent routes that focused more on leisure travelers and connecting flow to the Caribbean drop from the route map.
Separately, the carrier is planning significant growth of its Orlando Support Center (OSC) training facility. The campus sits at the center of the company’s training operations for all inflight crew and will continue in that role with the larger facility. Additional flight simulators are being added for pilot training as is a larger ditching pool for cabin crew. New classrooms and more parking are also part of the plans.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) October 8, 2018