JetBlue appears poised to close its Mexico City operations after four years in the market. While the carrier still has flights to Mexico’s capital city from Boston, New York City, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in the timetable it has zeroed out inventory for all of those routes after 8 January 2020. Zeroing the inventory is a common practice for airlines planning to remove a flight from the schedule.
Update: A JetBlue Spokesman confirms that the station will be closing.
As part of a continued network optimization program, JetBlue will suspend its routes to Mexico City, with the final day of service being January 8, 2020. Exiting Mexico City will allow us to redeploy additional aircraft on our top performing routes where demand for JetBlue’s award winning service and low fares is growing. JetBlue will contact customers who are affected by the route suspension to discuss options.
The first couple years of service in the market were hampered by less-than-ideal slot times at Benito Juárez International Airport. As a condition of the Delta Air Lines/Aeromexico cooperative operations slots were ceded to competitors in 2017 and JetBlue’s flights became somewhat more attractive, plus two additional routes were added. Apparently it was not enough to make them profitable.
On the Boston route JetBlue is the only nonstop carrier. At JFK its daily flight faces competition from the Delta/Aeromexico pair (4x daily) as well as from VivaAerobus (1x) and Interjet (2x). At Orlando the competition is Aeromexico and Interjet daily, plus 3x weekly service from VivaAerobus. JetBlue is the sole operator at Fort Lauderdale, though American Airlines, VivaAerobus, Interjet and Aeromexico all serve Miami-Mexico City.
Mexico City’s traffic is far more business-focused than other Mexican destinations such as Cancun where JetBlue will continue operations.
The closing represents a tiny portion of JetBlue’s market and only four daily flights. Still, it also raises questions about the current fleet plan and where those planes will operate. The company has focused on 5+ hour flights in business markets for its Mint product, for example, but never put that service on the Mexico City route from New York and Boston. The company has deferred some aircraft deliveries on purpose and seen some delays from Airbus as well, slowing the fleet growth this year from 13 A321neo frames to 6 expected. JetBlue previously anticipated 15 deliveries in 2020; that number reduced to 14 over the summer. The company indicated at that time that its 2020 growth plans would slow somewhat from prior estimates. Just where those new and larger planes will all be flying remains to be seen.
One interesting note about the potential for the aircraft is where new Mint deliveries might operate. In a recent internal message to crewmembers President Joanna Geraghty noted, “[A]s we take more Mint deliveries in the future we’ll continue to focus on long-haul markets such as Europe, additional high-value transcon flying, and possibly even Hawaii.”