Four years ago Norwegian Airlines made a creative play, adding flights between the United States and the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Those flights ended earlier this winter, not to return on Norwegian in 2019-2020, but one of the routes will remain. After brushing off the competitive threat at the time JetBlue will launch its own seasonal service to Guadeloupe in February 2020.
The new route will fly thrice weekly from JFK to Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport (PTP). That is a reduction from the 6x weekly service Norwegian operated on the same route but keeps at least some nonstop flights during the highest demand periods. Flight times and other details will be announced at a later time.
Guadeloupe was previously dismissed as too weak a market, unable to deliver the revenue necessary to operate the relatively long stage length for the flight. In 2015 a JetBlue executive acknowledged that the route was studied frequently, but that the carrier had better things to use its aircraft on. It is unclear if this move reflects a strengthening of the market, JetBlue’s continued creativity to find niche markets with limited competition, or some combination thereof. The carrier is strong in the Caribbean and the new service will benefit somewhat from that existing name recognition in the region.
Separately, JetBlue also announced a shift from Houston’s Hobby Airport to Intercontinental, on the north side of town. The shift was attributed to “network performance, demand and customer feedback” that the company expects will improve the relevance of its services in the Boston and JFK markets, especially among corporate customers. Operating costs at IAH are higher than at Hobby, making this an expensive move for the carrier.
The shift takes place on 27 October 2019 and ticketed passengers who don’t want to change airports are being given the option of a full refund.
The carrier will also add three-times weekly service from JFK to San Jose, Costa Rica beginning in November 2019. This service joins the daily nonstop flights from San Jose to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, as well as daily service from JFK to Liberia, Costa Rica.
Not mentioned in the press releases are cuts coming to the network. Two stations – Anchorage and La Romana, Dominican Republic – are closing completely. The carrier is also expected to drop all service between JFK and Charlotte while increasing the Boston-Charlotte route from 3x to 5x daily. Finally, flights from Washington National airport to Charleston, SC and Jacksonville, FL are slated to end.
The DCA and Charlotte changes will occur at the IATA season change on October 26/27, similar to the Houston switch. The La Romana service will end on 10 January 2020.