On Wednesday JetBlue indicated plans to remove 40% of its capacity for April and May. As with other airlines, however, the carrier continues to see demand free fall. On Sunday afternoon JetBlue President & COO Joanna Geraghty sent a note to inflight crewmembers indicating that further cuts are at hand.
The company faces a significant challenge in determining what flights to cancel. Geraghty alludes to this in the letter, highlighting that travelers today are not out joyriding in the skies:
During this crisis, the need for travel remains, but the reasons for it have changed. Now, our Customers are flying because they must. They need to get home, or they need to visit a loved one who is unwell, or they need to travel to support the response to this crisis.
Even as the number of passengers flying is reduced the importance of their trips remains significant. JetBlue intends to continue serving those needs as much as possible, but the currently published schedule will not operate in full. Instead, JetBlue will begin to “cancel on a rolling basis non-essential flights.”
The company expects cancellation numbers to “increase substantially for flights this week and next” while still meeting the essential passenger needs. To that end, JetBlue expects to operate “under half our normal schedule in the coming days, and even less in April.“
Depending on which flights are canceled the overall impact to capacity could still remain around the 40% benchmark previously provided. But it is also clear that the company intends to increase cancellations much closer to departure time where loads, staffing challenges or other demands fail to justify operating the trip. PaxEx.Aero understands that nearly 500 flights are slated to be canceled in the first half of the coming week as part of this program.
Catering changes, on top of the schedule cuts
On top of the reduction in flights JetBlue is also planning changes to the on-board catering experience. While renowned for its generous policy of free snacks and drinks on board the current climate will see that scale back. Passengers will soon see only a single snack option in the cabin, not five.
Drink options are similarly disappearing. Passengers will only have water as an option under the new plan. The company will continue to pour from large bottles until it can source additional individual waters sufficient to transition back to that model.
Additionally, all buy-on-board service is being suspended. Passengers used to staying well fed on JetBlue flights will need to plan ahead and bring their own provisions for the foreseeable future.
Even in the face of these cuts, however, Geraghty points out the key value that JetBlue and its front-line staff can deliver, helping to secure the company’s future:
Our Customers are facing adjusted, managed and re-managed expectations every day. The present situation will not continue indefinitely. When it passes – and it will – may the highest compliment we receive be, “When I needed JetBlue, it did not disappoint.”
For a (generally) up-to-date listing of airlines and their operational levels check out this spreadsheet maintained by PaxEx.Aero and other industry experts.
More on COVID-19 and the airlines affected
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